Shop owners prepare for tourists

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KUALA LUMPUR: Shop owners and vendors around the city’s tourist spots are excited about the reopening of international borders on April 1, but fear the Covid-19 Omicron wave could cause another shutdown.

Siti Fatimah Mohd Sharip, a vendor at Masjid Jamek, said she was hesitant to increase her stock at the moment as there are still three weeks until April 1.

“I will only increase my stock if I see an increase in demand when tourists start coming. For now, I will maintain my current stock levels,” the 30-year-old told The Star yesterday.

Siti Fatimah, who has been a vendor at Masjid Jamek for more than 10 years, said she remains hopeful the government’s decision will help her business recover.

Zuraida Hashim, who has been a vendor here for more than 20 years, shares the same sentiment and said she would only increase her stock once she sees flesh-and-blood tourists.

She added that domestic tourists from Sabah and Sarawak have given a boost to her business, and she believes the arrival of foreign tourists will fully revive it.

As for Rengasamy, owner of the convenience store Samy Enterprise, the announcement of the reopening of the border is a relief. “I can finally sleep in peace,” the 57-year-old said.

Outside: Himmah Aafifah takes a picture of her friends Anisah Azlin (left) and Nir Adibah Nadia in front of the sculpture outside the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

“I hope they really open the borders this time around.

“If they keep postponing this then I will be in big trouble as I have many commitments such as rent, employee salaries and family needs,” he added.

Another business owner, Steve Hong, 40, said he believed despite the economic boost tourists would bring, adherence to standard operating procedures remained an important factor.

“If more people come in, of course, the risk is higher. However, we still have to survive and get our business going again, so let’s just follow the SOP to make sure our borders won’t be closed again,” the gadget store owner said.

However, shoppers who frequent the Masjid Jamek area had mixed feelings about the government’s decision to allow foreign travelers to return.

“On Tuesday, cases were still above the 30,000 mark, so I’m afraid we’re back to square one – we need to make sure compliance with SOPs remains strict even though it (the reopening of borders) will help our economy,” said 37-year-old -former trader Izlin Ismail.

Marsilawati Mohd Rani said: “When we open our doors to tourists, we are opening to the same level of danger as the previous wave that started with people going on pilgrimages.”

Registrar Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka urge Malaysians not to repeat history as the virus is invisible.

“Let’s respect the SOP so that our transition to the endemic phase is smoother,” she said.

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