Johor shop owners get set for tourists as Malaysia reopens borders

Shop owners and vendors are excited about the reopening of borders but are worried that a Covid-19 wave may cause another shutdown.


Out and about: Himmah Aafifah taking a photo of her friends Anisah Azlin (left) and Nir Adibah Nadia at the sculpture outside the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

March 10, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – Shop owners and vendors around tourist spots in the city are excited about the reopening of international borders come April 1 but are worried that the Covid-19 Omicron wave may cause another shutdown.

Siti Fatimah Mohd Sharip, a vendor in Masjid Jamek, said she was wary about increasing her stock for now because there are still three weeks to go before April 1.

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

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

Zuraida Hashim, who has been a vendor here for over 20 years, shared the same sentiment and said she would only increase her stock once she sees tourists in the flesh.

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

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

“I hope they will truly open the borders this time around.

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

Another business owner, Steve Hong, 40, said he believes that despite the economic boost tourists will bring, standard operating procedure compliance remains an important factor.

“If more people come in, of course the risk is higher. However, we still need to survive and revive our business so let’s just follow the SOP to ensure our borders will not 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 travellers back in.

“On Tuesday, cases were still over the 30,000 mark, so I am concerned that we will go back to square one – we need to ensure SOP compliance remains strict even though it (reopening borders) will help our economy,” said 37-year-old shopkeeper Izlin Ismail.

Marsilawati Mohd Rani said: “When we open our doors to tourists, we are opening to a level of danger as per the previous wave that started from people going on their pilgrimage.”

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

“Let’s comply with the SOP so our transition to the endemic phase will be smoother,” she said.

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