Covid-hit Klang Valley folk yearn to eat out again, but safety concerns override perks for fully vaccinated

·4-min read
Malaysians said the perks should be tempered with caution to slow down the transmission of the coronavirus. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Malaysians said the perks should be tempered with caution to slow down the transmission of the coronavirus. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 ― Of all the things most desired by Malaysians who have completed their double dose Covid-19 vaccinations, eating out at restaurants, kopitiams and even the humble mamak stalls with friends and family has got to top the list.

At least, this is the general consensus among residents in densely-populated Kuala Lumpur and Selangor which has been under full lockdown since early June.

But even as they told Malay Mail they were looking forward to the government’s announcement of the privileges to be accorded to the fully vaccinated, they also expressed anxiety at the continued high rate of daily infections, especially after the record 19,819 cases on August 3.

In the straw poll, 11 Malaysians said the perks should be tempered with caution to slow down the transmission of the coronavirus.

“The restaurant businesses have suffered a lot and I think they do miss serving customers.

“It should be safe as long as we adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) such as physical distancing,” said a 32-year-old data analyst who wished to be known as Gayathri.

Others, like 29-year-old business development manager, Justin Lee, said dining-in at eateries “will definitely put citizens’ lives back to some form of normality”, after they’ve had to either cook or takeaway food for most of the time since the pandemic hit here.

However, among those who were pro dining-in, three expressed caution, saying it might be better to wait a little longer before easing restrictions.

Aizat Ikhwan, a 39-year-old government servant, suggested that the government wait until at least 40 per cent of the Malaysian population was fully vaccinated before doing so.

Government servant Aizat Ikhwan, who got his second Covid shot on July 22, said that while Malaysians rebelled at the idea of staying home, it’s best to stay put for now. — Picture courtesy of Aizat Ikhwan
Government servant Aizat Ikhwan, who got his second Covid shot on July 22, said that while Malaysians rebelled at the idea of staying home, it’s best to stay put for now. — Picture courtesy of Aizat Ikhwan

“Yes, we would like to have here something like what Sarawak has done.

“As a trait of human beings, we don’t want to be caged any longer. But looking at the high number of cases right now, it might not be safe,” said Aizat.

Since July 16, Sarawak has been allowing dine-ins for those who have taken at least one dose of a vaccine while Sabah has allowed dine-ins for everyone since June 29, provided patrons adhere to strict Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

Over in the peninsula, queues of people have been seen snaking outside eateries in Perlis on August 4.

As of yesterday, 32.9 per cent of the country’s adult population, and 23.6 per cent of the overall population have been fully vaccinated, according to the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Supply (JKJAV).

The JKJAV statistics also showed 31.8 per cent of the overall population in the Klang Valley ― this includes the administrative capital Putrajaya on top of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor ― have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Travel perks not as popular

When asked if they were interested in the government possibly easing travel restrictions on the fully vaccinated, there did not seem to be strong consensus among those interviewed.

Six of those polled said they were waiting on the possibility to cross local district and state borders.

Among them, a 53-year-old who identified himself only as Sivabalan, said his business that used to manufacture electronic parts had permanently closed down during the course of the pandemic, and he needed to be able to travel to find new income streams.

Others like 41-year-old IT engineer, Muhd Hazuwan said he dearly misses his family that lives in Sandakan, Sabah, and can’t wait to see them again.

“I’m fully vaccinated so I should be allowed to travel interstate. I want to go for a holiday,” said 27-year-old marketing executive Kenneth Matthew.

Only two of those interviewed wanted to be allowed to travel overseas, one for business and the other for leisure.

Justin Lee, who received his second Covid jab on July 24, said he hoped the number of days required to quarantine when returning from overseas could be reduced to less than 14 days. — Picture courtesy of Justin Lee
Justin Lee, who received his second Covid jab on July 24, said he hoped the number of days required to quarantine when returning from overseas could be reduced to less than 14 days. — Picture courtesy of Justin Lee

Other perks that were anticipated included being allowed entry to recreational parks (five), malls (four), cinemas (four), gyms (two) and to have small gatherings (one).

Software engineer Lingeswaren Supurmaniam said he wants to be allowed to have a gathering with loved ones who were also fully vaccinated. — Picture courtesy of Lingeswaren Supurmaniam
Software engineer Lingeswaren Supurmaniam said he wants to be allowed to have a gathering with loved ones who were also fully vaccinated. — Picture courtesy of Lingeswaren Supurmaniam

Of all those interviewed, only one person, 61-year-old Cindy Peng, was against any easing of restrictions on fully vaccinated Malaysians.

“So what if you’ve got the second dose, this thing can still spread,” she said, referring to the coronavirus.

On July 24, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government was finalising plans to lift certain SOPs on those who had received all the required doses of their Covid-19 vaccines.

The SOP relaxations he touted included fewer restrictions for travel into Malaysia, interstate movement for spouses working separately, social activities, sports and dining-in at restaurants.

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