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Workers at an accessory shop  get ready to reopen their premises to shoppers at the Gurney Paragon Mall, George Town, August 18, 2021. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Workers at an accessory shop get ready to reopen their premises to shoppers at the Gurney Paragon Mall, George Town, August 18, 2021. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Aug 18 — Some retail stores in shopping malls in Penang immediately reopened yesterday after the chief minister clarified that the 22 business types allowed to resume need not wait for the state to achieve 50 per cent full vaccination rate.

However, many others have remained closed, with some taking a few days to clean up and rearrange the merchandise in the shops.

On Sunday, the then Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhiyiddin Yassin announced that 22 businesses are allowed to reopen in states under Phase Two and Three of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

These included retailers that sell furniture, carpet, electrical and electronic, clothing and fashion, jewellery, home and kitchen appliances, cosmetics, perfume and skincare.

Over in Gurney Paragon Mall, about 40 per cent of the stores were open today including some eateries that have also opened for dine-in including their food court.

According to the mall management, some of the tenants are still preparing their respective shops today such as cleaning up the space since most of the non-essential shops have been closed since June 1.

Among the shops that have reopened today is Ashley Furniture Homestore of Hauslife Furniture Sdn Bhd.

Its store manager, Ho Li Yen, said they went in to clean up yesterday so that they could reopen today for customers who have been fully vaccinated.

She said all four of the staff, including herself, have received their first dose vaccination.

“We won’t be expecting crowds immediately but we are hoping maybe to get more customers maybe over the next few months when more people are fully vaccinated,” she said.

Workers at a furniture shop make preparations to reopen their store to shoppers at the Gurney Paragon Mall, George Town, August 18, 2021. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Workers at a furniture shop make preparations to reopen their store to shoppers at the Gurney Paragon Mall, George Town, August 18, 2021. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

She said the shop has been trying to sell its furniture and decor items online through its website but it wasn’t easy so sales had dropped by almost 70 per cent.

“Customers would prefer to touch and feel when it comes to furniture, reopening the physical store will be better to get sales,” she said.

She added that they will also be extra vigilant in ensuring all standard operating procedures are adhered to, and that they will sanitise the place along with the items that any walk-in customers have touched.

“We will sanitise after each customer to ensure the safety of all our customers,” she said.

Jewellery store Dzi Kingdom was also seen making preparations to reopen with its workers going in to sanitise the shop and rearrange the items.

The shop supervisor, Sheila Choong, said all of the staff have received their first dose vaccination and they are prepared to open the storefront for fully vaccinated customers.

“It is hard to sell jewellery online since customers prefer to try it on and feel it so opening the shop will be easier to sell,” she said.

She said they will also ensure customers do not remove their mask at any time and that all items that the customers touched will be cleaned after they leave.

Near lunch hour, more customers were seen at the mall but most of them were there to buy groceries or to take away food from some of the restaurants and cafes there.

Retiree Tajul Md Yusop and his wife, Rokiah Darus, went to Jaya Grocer at the mall to buy some groceries and check out some of the shops that were opened.

“I have not been to a mall for over a year, since the first movement control order last year,” he said.

The 66-year-old, who had received two full doses of the Covid-19 vaccine said they had relied on their adult children to buy groceries and food for them in the past year.

“We stay home all the time and cook our own meals,” Rokiah said.

The couple, who lives in Bayan Baru, said they were in town so they decided to drop by Gurney Paragon to buy some groceries.

“We didn’t go to any of the supermarkets near our place because one after another were closed for a few days due to cases,” they said.

They were still very careful when they were at the mall.

“It is much quieter than we expected and we still have to be very careful so we don’t want to eat outside, we prefer to eat at home,” Tajul said.

Despite fully vaccinated individuals being allowed to dine in at eateries, many were still sticking with only takeaway and delivery orders.

The ones that are open for dine-in patrons were not seeing brisk business either as not many people have received their full two dose of the Covid-19 vaccines yet.

At Xixiang Kaya Kopitiam, a maximum of three tables were set up for dine-in but they seldom get fully vaccinated customers who wanted to dine-in.

“We get a maximum of maybe two to three tables per day,” said the outlet manager Adeline Chong.

She said most of their regular customers continued to order takeaway.

Previously, the cafe would get 50 to 60 tables of customers for a full day of business, about 240 individuals, but now it has reduced to less than 10 individuals per day.

“To ensure the safety of everyone, we have a time limit for dine-in customers, they are given only an hour to sit and eat from the moment they place an order,” she said.

The businesses that are now allowed to reopen in Penang are electrical and electronics, home and kitchen appliances, furniture, sports equipment, car accessories, car distributors and showrooms, farmers’ markets, clothing and fashion, jewellery, beauty shops, photo and photo services, used goods, florists and nurseries, crafts and souvenirs, antiques, toys, carpet, creative content and creative industry accessories, outdoor gadgets, cosmetic, skincare and perfume, and tobacco including vape and e-cigarettes.

Only fully vaccinated individuals are allowed to enter the premises of these businesses.

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