Raya shoppers and businesses adapting to the “new norm”

India Street Pedestrian Mall operates under the new norm and is less lively this year due to Covid-19 pandemic (Borneo Post Pic)

By Emma Victoria

THE India Street Pedestrian Mall in Kuching is a popular shopping haven, especially during fasting month but it is a pale comparison to how its used be as the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the business there.

This is the place where shoppers are spoilt for choice when looking for baking ingredients, fabrics, kitchen appliances, food items as well as affordable shoes and clothes.

But shopping is now done in a different way by adopting the “new norm” such as wearing mask, social distancing, writing down their details and sanitising their hands before enter a shop.

Shopper Syaree Serah said he came to India Street at 8am with his wife to shop for items in preparation for Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which falls in less than two weeks.

“During the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO), I rarely left home but since most shops have reopened, my wife and I decided to go out to get things to prepare for Hari Raya, even though this year’s celebration would not be as festive,” he told Borneo Post.

“It’s good to see people coming out again, while (being) mindful of the new norm,” he said.

Another shopper, Salus Jait from Kampung Siol Kandis, said the start of the CMCO in Sarawak had enabled those like him to run various errands aside from buying goods needed for the coming festival.

“Although I’m worried about the Covid-19 situation in the state, I would have to get used to the new norm like everyone else,” he said,

“The fear is there but I have to live in this new norm. Every time I go out, I will always wear a face mask and bring along hand sanitiser,” he said, adding that he would remind his children to do the same whenever they went out.

Meanwhile, fabric trader Shajahan Sayed Ahmad, 60, has reopened his shop after closed for nearly two months during the MCO period.

“Thankfully, with the implementation of the CMCO in Sarawak, many of us can start getting back on our feet again. I am grateful to the government for allowing us to do business again.

As traders, we have to be responsible and comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP),” said Shajahan, who raised his shutters at 8am.

Shoe store manager Lily Tnay said she had to ensure that her staff were prepared to operate the business in accordance with the SOP set by the government.

“Before opening the store, we would first sanitise the premise. We also ask every customer to register their names and phone numbers as a precaution,” she said, adding that only three customers would be allowed to enter the shop at one time.

Plaza Merdeka Holdings Sdn Bhd director Datin Anriza Wong Cordero said the management followed the SOP before allowing staff, traders and customers to enter the shopping mall.

“The safety measures include checking body temperature, wearing face masks, using hand sanitisers and maintaining social distancing,” she said.

According to her, about 70 per cent of the mall’s traders have reopened while the rest have not as they have not carried out cleaning works on their premises.

Hair salons, toy shops and massage parlours are not allowed to open because they are at risk of being exposed to Covid-19, she said, adding that the mall is open daily from 10am to 8pm throughout the CMCO period.


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