KUALA LUMPUR: With Malaysians staying home under the movement control order (MCO), many food businesses have started to offer home delivery.
This service does not only offer convenience to people cooped up indoors for two weeks, but is also an attempt to sustain their operations, they told CNA.
The MCO, enforced from Mar 18 to Mar 31, bars residents from leaving their homes unless necessary, such as to purchase groceries or to seek medical attention, in order to minimise contact and to curb the spread of COVID-19. More than 1,600 confirmed cases have been reported so far.
Under such circumstances, food businesses, which have to close their dine-in sections, are badly affected.
While some decided to close for two weeks, some, like Mr Navin Karu’s Ocean Flair Group, quickly tweaked their operations so that all six entities focused on delivery during the MCO period.
Previously, only two of the entities offered home delivery.
“One is a shop with a deli, butchery and food store, while the other is a catering business.
“As for the other four brands, we are actively applying to get onto food delivery platforms and right now we are offering phone deliveries,” he said. These four are restaurants that serve gourmet food.
Mr Navin said all six entities currently process over 20 orders a day.
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A seafood wholesaler, Senri Malaysia, also started to offer delivery since MCO kicked in.
“We are actually a supplier providing seafood to restaurants and hotels,” said its chief operating officer Mok Kah Muin.
“But now with the MCO, we have started to sell directly to consumers. It is important because otherwise a lot of the seafood will spoil,” she said.
Ms Mok explained that the company has a template listing all the choices available, along with their prices.
“The customers can fill up the forms accordingly and once payment is made, we will arrange for delivery,” she said.
"WE ARE REDUCING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19”
Despite Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s plea for all to stay at home, many Malaysians still continued to gather and socialise.
The army has to be deployed to the streets since Sunday (Mar 22), while the government reminded the people that offenders could be fined up to RM1,000 (US$225.70) or jailed up to six months, or both.
Mr Muhyiddin said last Wednesday that the government may be forced to extend the MCO if current measures fail to contain the spread of COVID-19.
A lorry driver, who only wanted to be known as Amirul, has started delivering fresh vegetables directly to homes in the Klang Valley, as wet markets are not allowed to operate during the MCO.
“My brother and I are both lorry drivers and we normally deliver fresh vegetables from farms to markets. But with the MCO, those vegetables have nowhere to go.
“Since most of our other delivery gigs have been cancelled, we decided we would help the farms to directly deliver the vegetables to houses. That would prevent people from going out to stock up and would reduce the spread of the infection,” he said.
The MCO has prompted Mdm K Vigneswari and her partner to resume their food catering business, a side job that they have earlier set aside.
“My friend and I both work in clinics and we realised that so many restaurants are closed now.
“Many people still need to go to work but have nowhere to get food, so we decided we will start this business again,” she said.
They deliver to Bukit Mertajam and Bukit Minyak in Penang.
“The food is simple and we don’t charge much. Since it’s just the two of us cooking and delivering, we also don’t take orders above a certain number,” Mdm Vigneswari said.
STRINGENT HYGIENE MEASURES AND HEALTH CHECKS FOR STAFF
Delivery workers have to meet many people during the MCO.
Having that in mind, Mr Abdul Salam Ibrahim, who has started delivery service for his nasi kerabu business in Bentong, Pahang, shared that he and his team took stringent steps for their own safety.
“From the start, we have all our delivery staff wear masks and sanitise their hands after each delivery. Also when they come back to the shop, we encourage them to take a shower, clean up, and throw out the used face masks and gloves.
“After seeing how a pizza delivery chain did it, I now have ordered all my boys to leave the food bags on their bikes and walk away when the customer comes. Only once the customer collects the food and is a safe distance away, my boys will get back on their bikes,” he said.
Mdm Saffina Said, who runs a bakery in Johor, said all her employees went for a medical check-up when she started delivery service six days ago.
“I have a panel doctor to check all my staff. Those who work at the outlet are checked once a week while the delivery boys have to be checked once in three days,” she said.
The doctor checks them for fever, cough or other symptoms related to COVID-19, she added.
Mr Navin from Ocean Flair Group said in addition to the hygiene measures for their delivery riders, the premises where the food is prepared are also sanitised regularly.
“We have a wipe-down schedule every half an hour where all the surfaces are sanitised. We also leave one of the doors ajar so that people who walk in don't need to hold the door to open it,” he said.
Everyone wears a mask and any staff who shows any sign of illnesses will immediately be sent to the clinic, he added.