Thursday, January 21

Chamber sec-gen expects business, public confidence to pick up in view of virus slowdown

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KUCHING: Businesses and public confidence are generally expected to pick up over time as the Covid-19 outbreak in the country is being contained, opines Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary-general Jonathan Chai.

While saying that it might be too early to access the impacts of Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), he pointed out that there had been encouraging signs that the crowds have gradually returned to most food courts and shopping centres.

“Some coffee shop owners have indicated that they have been getting around 30 to 40 per cent of their normal business since the RMCO,” said Chai when prompted for comments.

He remarked that the implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) had restricted the number of dine-in patrons and most customers would prefer to go for breakfast and lunch but not dinner.

“The mentality of the general public remains cautious so long as the Covid-19 is not eradicated completely,” he said.

Nevertheless, Chai stressed it is pertinent that people do not take the relaxation of rules and leniency under the RMCO for granted as the country enters the recovery phase.

Business operators, he added, must strictly observe the SOPs prescribed by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 outbreak.

“The public, for the time being, should make the new normal a culture until a vaccine (for Covid-19) is found. For example, we must put on face mask whenever we are out from home, wash our hands more often than usual and observe social distancing.”

By doing so, Chai is hopeful that the country would be able to enter into normalisation phase by Aug 31, the last day of the RMCO, when the movement restrictions are expected to end.

On a separate development, Chai said there was no doubt that he had empathy for businesses which were not allowed to resume operation, such as reflexology and massage centres, cinemas, karaoke centres and clubs, as the nature of their business makes social distancing difficult.

“It’s also expected that there would be closure of business for some coffee shops, restaurants, hairdressing saloons, hotels and travel agencies as these are some of the badly affected sectors.”

Chai said the extent of unemployment was still unknown at this juncture but expected it to rise in the future.