LABUAN, July 13 — Labuan business chambers have appealed to the Federal government to consider allowing customers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to dine-in at the island’s food and beverages (F&B) outlets.

Indian Chamber of Commerce committee member Balvir Singh said the flexibility would greatly help F&B operators to stay afloat during this COVID-19 pandemic movement restrictions.

“Given the high protection rates conferred by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, we are of the view the government should allow privately-owned F&B outlets the flexibility to seat bigger groups of dine-in customers, provided the customers and food premises staffs are all fully vaccinated.

“We appeal to the government to give F&B outlets an alternative to the current standard operating procedures (SOPs) to have a better chance of surviving the prolonged pandemic, if not, many outlets will have to cease operations completely,” he said to Bernama today.

Given the smooth rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the country, it was time to relook at the SOPs imposed on the F&B outlets, said Balvir, who is also the Labuan Sikh Society Association deputy president.

“Labuan is seeing a downward trend in the number of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, from three digits to two digits, and the infectivity rate is the second-lowest in the country.

“Based on the news report, Labuan has vaccinated over 85 per cent of its adult population ahead of achieving herd immunity by the end of this month.

“As such, the F&B outlets’ operators must be given a chance to heave a sigh of relief by giving us the dine-in flexibility,” he said.

Labuan Chinese Chamber of Commerce (LCCC) education committee member Roger Foo said a stricter SOP could be drawn up for full compliance, such as ensuring a safe distance between tables.

“We reckon a one-size-fits-all set of rules and regulations should no longer be used when people who are fully vaccinated are less at risk than those who are not vaccinated.

“We are in a race between the COVID-19 variant and vaccine. Allowing dine-ins for only fully vaccinated customers will help encourage the fence-sitters to get vaccinated…and we in the business chamber want to do everything we can to ensure the vaccines win,” he said.

Today, Labuan reported 60 new cases, bringing its total number of infections to 9,267 to-date.

This was the 10th consecutive day that the number of new cases in Labuan has remained in the double digits, a far cry from two weeks ago when it reported triple-digit new cases per day.


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