PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Cabinet has only given its nod to e-bazaars during the fasting month for now, where orders will be placed online for food to be delivered to doorsteps, said Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Proposals for two other concepts – order and then pick up as well as drive-thru – will be fined-tuned, he said in a press conference that was streamed live on Wednesday (Apr 15).
“If concepts such as drive-thru are introduced, I believe many people will go out at the same time, resulting in a huge number (of vehicles on the road),” he said.
Mr Ismail Sabri, who is also the Defence Minister, said this would complicate police enforcement as people would have more excuses to leave home.
This latest Cabinet decision came after Mr Ismail Sabri said on Monday that all forms of Ramadan bazaars would not be allowed in Malaysia during the movement control order (MCO), now in its third phase to rein in the spread of COVID-19.
The extended MCO will end on Apr 28 while fasting month is expected to begin on Apr 23. Normally, Ramadan bazaars will be set up nationwide for Muslims and non-Muslim alike to purchase various delicacies for breaking of fast or dinner.
READ: Malaysia unveils RM250 billion economic stimulus package as COVID-19 cases surge
There have been concerns of possible spread of the coronavirus at these gatherings, as healthcare workers race against the clock to treat patients and contain the disease.
Some states have decided to call off the Ramadan bazaars in view of the pandemic. Proposing alternatives, Selangor has introduced e-bazaar while Perak said drive-thru bazaar would be held instead.
Perlis, meanwhile, has allowed food traders to operate from home and along the roadside for takeaways or deliveries.
Commenting on this, Mr Ismail Sabri said on Wednesday that a set of standard operating procedures (SOP) would be introduced to avoid discrepancy in implementation nationwide.
“Once we have the specific SOP, we will standardise between the states,” he said.
READ: Hari Raya Bazaar at Wisma Geylang Serai deferred due to COVID-19 concerns, says PA
NO DRIVE-THRU BAZAAR IN JOHOR: SULTAN
Over in Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar said there would be no drive-thru Ramadan bazaars due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
He said the frontliners in the country were now tireless fighting to combat the infection.
“I am worried that if drive-through Ramadan bazaar is allowed, there will be traffic congestion to an extent that it will further burden the enforcement personnel on duty.
“In fact, there will be risks of close contact and if a new cluster surfaces, how are we going to control the infection?” he said on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
Sultan Ibrahim called on the people in the southern state to remain patient and persevere in these trying times.
“Patience is part of the (Muslim) faith. Please be patient and do not defy the MCO. Make sure you only go out when necessary.
“I am also confining myself (at home) and do not go anywhere, so I do understand the inconvenience of not being able to do the daily routine,” he added.
BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments
Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram