GEORGE TOWN, Jan 23 — “If we could have at least a table for two allowed to be set up just outside our hawker stall (for dine-in), we would still be able to keep our business alive” – pined most food hawkers at the once-famous food joint at Gurney Drive here.

They are hoping that by having just a table for two customers to dine-in could significantly alleviate their current struggle during the second wave of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Rojak seller Tan Swee Hoe, 59, told Bernama that business has been tough for him during MCO and those who came by to order takeaways were either their regulars or food couriers.

He said it would be much more convenient for both the hawkers and their customers if they could have just one table and two seats for dine-in purpose.

“Having a table means that we can easily dish out our food right in front of the table and customers could just enjoy them right on the spot,” he said.

Tan also said that last month when Penang was in the recovery phase of MCO (RMCO), business was so much better as their main target audience were tourists.

“Now that we are back to MCO, when interstate travels are restricted and dine-in is not allowed, all we can do now is just hope and pray for the best,” he added.

According to him, there are around 111 hawker stalls in the Gurney Drive food joint, and if it were not for the MCO, at least 40 stalls would be opened on a Friday.

However, a check by Bernama at the hawker centre here yesterday found that only six stalls were operational.

Meanwhile, Pasembur Rojak stall owner, P. Devi, 40, wished that the pandemic would be over and the MCO could be lifted soon, so that her business, which she operates with her husband, M. Raja, 45, could return back to normal.

She said that last month, during the month long school holidays, their business was doing well and they were able to earn between RM800 and RM1,000 on weekends.

“Now, we literally did not get any customers, not even those from food delivery services. Just last week when we were operating from Friday until Sunday, we could not even sell one dish for three days straight,” she said.

She said that it was the first time this had ever happened to them since they started their Pasembur Rojak business about 28 years ago.

She hoped that the government could consider allowing hawkers to set up a table for two to dine-in, just so they could keep their business going through these tough times.

“Not only can it be a fast and convenient service for the sellers and the buyers, but customers could also enjoy the ambience here as well,” she added.

On Jan 21, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that eateries and restaurants are allowed to operate until 10 pm, effective Jan 22.

A Muar Chee stall owner, who wished to be referred as “Miss Lai”, said that it is a step forward for the hawkers that the federal government decided to extend the operational hours from 8pm to 10pm.

The 51-year-old said that the extension of the operational hours could give customers more time to order takeout for dinner.

“The last time when we had to close our stall early at 7.30 pm, most of the people were just getting ready to go home and had no time to order take-aways for dinner, so I would say that the extension does give an extra breathing room for both the hawkers and customers,” she added.


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