State urged to reconsider no dine-in directive

By John Isaac

THE Sarawak government is urged to reconsider the no dine-in directive for all restaurants and coffeeshops as operators are surviving on a border line.

In a joint statement issued by Sarawak Restaurants Association, Kuching Coffee Shops and Restaurants Owners Association and Persatuan Tukang Masak How Yu Kuching Sarawak, they said their members had pledged to strictly observe the recommended measures to safeguard against Covid-19.

“We are supporting the living of a large workforce and since June 2020, members have given feedback that a majority of them are facing cash flow crisis.”

The associations pointed out that dine-in service was crucial in running their food business and currently, 60 per cent of their revenue had already been deprived by the pandemic.

“Another 10 per cent is affected by the booming home-based cooking (with or without licence), and the remaining 30 per cent of our revenue generated by dine-ins and take away.”

According to Borneo Post, they said the remaining 30 per cent of the revenue was frankly not sufficient to cover their fixed operating costs, including staff payroll, rental and utilities payments.

“Our members’ point of view on having diners to strictly sit one metre apart and limiting the number of customers per table is sufficient to prevent the spread of the virus compared to crowds in supermarkets.”

Thus, the associations urged the state government to consider the effectiveness of restaurants and coffeeshops in preventing the spread of the positive cases and clusters in the state.

Furthermore, they said the State Disaster Management Committee’s (SDMC) sudden measure on banning dine-in services had resulted in restaurant business owners with perishable stock in hand and not able to return them to the suppliers.

“This has resulted in loss of stock due to loss of food orders from potential diners, and the cancellation of reservations.”

Besides, with the SDMC’s directives on reducing workforce at workplaces, the associations urged the government to offer subsidies to the workforce should the no-dining rule be extended beyond May 17, since members had suffered too much business losses to support their staff.

“Also, we would also like the government to encourage landlords to reduce rents and other operating expenses, such as utility bills to benefit their tenants,” said the associations.