Manager of Restoran Grand Neelas, J. Neelavanen at Bandar Puchong Jaya marking up table with crosses to maintain table distancing and social distancing as restaurant were allowed to reopen for dine-ins under the conditional movement control order (MCO). YAP CHEE HONG / The Star.

Submerging the country with yet another lockdown phase has surely put many business owners off. The ones expected to feel a huge pinch from the Movement Control Order (MCO) is undeniable and most definitely the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry.

They are left with hundreds of uncertainties on how to keep their business afloat during these worst unprecedented period of life when customers are requested to stay at home. Thus, having left with no choice but to cut their employees daily wages to a quarter in order to cope with the loss of dine-in customers.

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Associations representing more than 30,000 food and beverage (F&B) enterprises are expecting that the government will loosen restrictions to allow customers to dine-in during the MCO phase.

The president of Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association (MSCSPGA) Ho Su Mong stated;

Rental alone takes up about 20% to 30% of our members’ total costs each month, and our businesses cannot carry on if we are limited to takeaways. If the government doesn’t encourage people to come out and spend, the economy is going to get even worse.

MSCSPGA announced that it intends to send a joint memorandum to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin with organisations such as the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) and the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas).

Primas president J Govindasamy hopes that the memorandum could at least initiate the rule of two diners per table to be re-introduced once again in an effort to keep eateries up and alive.

Govindasamy also further expressed that;

Now with takeaways, we’re only making 20% of what we used to. What about our rental and workers’ salaries? This is going to further damage the economy. It’s not just us. There are a lot of other companies like the vegetable, seafood and poultry suppliers. We’re all going to be affected.

The food and beverage industry is one of the leading contributing sector to the country’s economy. As of 2017, The Statistics Department valued the F&B sector’s output at RM82.8 billion and made a record of 958,803 employees.

In the battle to sustain the economy from crashing and shielding the lives of the community from COVID-19, what will the government’s next take be? Extend the existing MCO or loosen the restrictions imposed to keep selected economy sectors thriving?

More updates to follow!

Feature Image Credit: The Star