Johor food outlet operators want dine-in to be allowed as business statewide is on the brink of collapse

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Johor Baru Malay Hawkers, Traders and Small Entrepreneurs Association president Abdullah Md Yusof (left) and Coordinating Council of the Federation of Johor Malay Non-Governmental Organisations (Gabung Johor) president Zaini Atan speaking to reporters July 5, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan
Johor Baru Malay Hawkers, Traders and Small Entrepreneurs Association president Abdullah Md Yusof (left) and Coordinating Council of the Federation of Johor Malay Non-Governmental Organisations (Gabung Johor) president Zaini Atan speaking to reporters July 5, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, July 5 — Traders and food outlet operators in Johor want Putrajaya to relax the standard operating procedure (SOP) to allow a minimum number of dine-in customers.

The Coordinating Council of the Federation of Johor Malay Non-Governmental Organisations (Gabung Johor) president Zaini Atan said a fair number is up to 30 per cent of the outlet’s capacity.

He said the operators are pleading with the government as under the existing SOP, which only allows for takeaway, they cannot cover their operating costs.

“According to the current SOP, business premises can only operate on a takeaway basis. However, such operations can only accommodate about 20 per cent of the businesses, compared to dine ins.

“The 20 per cent revenue is only enough to pay the employees’ salaries, while other costs such as rentals are not covered.

“It is obvious that takeaways can’t cover our costs and expenses. It is easily a failed business model for us,” said Zaini in a joint media conference held at the LC Catering premises in Melodies Garden here today.

He was also joined by representatives from Johor’s Indian, Chinese and Indian-Muslim food outlet associations and groups representing more than 50,000 food-related businesses throughout Johor.

He added that the traders were also prepared to accept the condition of only allowing adults to dine in.

“If the current situation continues, many will go bankrupt.

“There is no need to wait, the community can see for themselves how many food premises in Johor Baru are forced to close because they cannot cover their operating costs at all,” he said.

Meanwhile, Johor Baru Malay Hawkers, Traders and Small Entrepreneurs Association president Abdullah Md Yusof said, “It’s already been more than a year where we have lost our Singapore customers (due to the MCO imposition on travel) and that has effectively wiped out half of our earnings.

“With the current restrictions, I fear more of our fellow traders will gulung tikar as they can’t survive,” said Abdullah, using the popular Malay phrase for going out of business.

“We don’t have any channels to voice our hardship and we hope that someone from the government can look into our problems and assist us.

“We are not protesting and want to work together with the government, but we feel that the state government at least needs to be proactive when it comes to taking care of traders who are now facing hardship,” he said.

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