Govt reconsiders 8pm closing for businesses

Businesses and consumers complain short business hours driving restaurants into the red due to lost sales and inconvenience


THE government is reconsidering longer hours for shops, especially food outlets, during the Movement Control Order (MCO) following public outcry.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced yesterday that the government is discussing with interested parties whether to extend business hours to end at 10pm, instead of the current 8pm.

The announcement, made at the minister’s regular Covid-19 briefing, followed complaints from businesses as well as consumers that the short business hours were driving restaurants into the red due to lost sales and inconvenience.

“The government is aware of the people’s complaints and grouses on all matters, and we have brought forward this matter for discussion. It is still being reviewed,” he said.

Based on social media postings and a quick survey done by The Malaysian Reserve (TMR), many are of the opinion that the shorter operating hours of eateries during the MCO has increased the burden of the rakyat.

Restoran Mahsuri owner Afnan Aiman said the move to allow businesses, eateries and shops to only operate from 6am to 8pm has caused more hardship to the rakyat, instead of helping them.

“For me, it’s not okay. Businesses have been a little slow because now we can’t dine in and time is too limited because people would usually finish work at 6pm or much later, and by the time they reach home, there’s not enough time to buy food because we’re already closed.

“When this happens, it affects our businesses and sales have been shrinking,” he told TMR.

He said if operating hours can be extended until 10pm, all restaurant operators will feel a little relieved and satisfied because most of them have more sales at night.

“Any restaurant, they depend more on customers who come at night. If the government is willing to extend the time, 10pm is already okay for us.”

Afnan also opined that the country’s political instability has put a great weight on businesses, making people’s lives more difficult than it already is.

“We know Covid-19 is dangerous, why would the politicians want to take advantage at a time like this by holding elections and asking people to choose leaders?

“To me, all of that is unnecessary. They should solve this problem first before their politics. If they can’t help us, don’t help us.”

Kedai Kopi Payung owner Nor Baizura Jamil told TMR the operating hours were pleasant at first as it gives time for her to close shop early and rest.

“But from an economic standpoint, sales have been down to half of what we made before. We have experienced a lot of our customers trying to come and buy food around 6pm or before we close.”

She also believes that it is better to extend the operating hours so that businesses can run accordingly to reach its sales targets and customers will not feel distressed.

The situation has caused quite the stir on Twitter when the hashtag #SiBodohKauDengarSini, which translates to “Listen here, idiot”, became a trending topic recently.

It all started when user @farhanazahan complained about not having dinner two nights in a row and that he faced problems while ordering food even though he placed an early order at 5pm.

He also tweeted that compared to Ismail Sabri, he does not have a maid to serve food at home when he gets back from work.

Another user @puterirajaawan replied that she “does not understand people who create problems out of everything”.

She suggested ordering the food early to store it in the fridge and reheat it the next day.

This elicited a response from @yarafaee_ whose tweet started with “Si bodoh, kau dengar sini” before elaborating that food delivery platforms are facing technical problems to fulfil substantial orders during a short window.

“People who got back from work do not have time to cook because they have to get up early the next day to go back to work.”

She also tweeted “instead of telling the rakyat to find a way, why not ask the government to extend operating hours?”