Bar Owners Of Klang Valley Voice Out Concerns Of Keeping Business Afloat Due To Confusing SOPs

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It seems as though all sectors have reopened with SOPs in place to revive the economy while staying cautious of the pandemic, yet there has been one sector that has been ignored all his while.

Bar owners and nightlife advocates have voiced out their worries and this is what they have to say about their struggling businesses…

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Restaurant Bar Owners Association spokesman Joshua Bilique said most bars and nightclubs were still not allowed to operate because they remained in the national recovery plan’s SOP negative list.

“Most of the local nightclubs and entertainment outlets have had to convert to the restaurant and bar concept just to be able to operate,” he told FMT. “I have been able to keep my business afloat but not everyone in this industry can say the same.”

He claimed that the SOPs were not clear, allowing some businesses to open past midnight but not nightclubs. This had severely affected nightlife business owners.

“Ironically, big functions such as weddings are allowed to take place with deejays and live music, but nightclubs and pubs aren’t,” he said.

Although nearly all industries have opened up fully with SOPs, the nightlife entertainment industry is not one of them.

“Don’t forget about us when updating the SOPs,” Bilique said.

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Merdekarya co-owner Brian Gomez said his business had taken a big hit and was barely keeping afloat.

“Even when SOPs were introduced, I wasn’t sure which ones to follow,” he told FMT. “SOPs for live music bars like ours are so complex and ambiguous.”

He said the government should give clear directives if it planned to relax the SOPs.

Gomez also said he suspected the government had no intention of reviving the nightlife industry.

“From a political and practical standpoint, it might not be in its interest,” he said.

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Godwin Pereira, the founder of Kyo, a nightclub at the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur, said he had had to retrench all of his 84 workers as the SOPs did not cater to the nightlife sector. He is out of work himself.

He also said it was hard to imagine reopening his venue even if the government was planning to relax the SOPs.

“The reality is that nightclubs and bars are still on the negative list,” he said. “Unless the government makes the effort to consult stakeholders in our line of work, no SOP will be adequate to curb the rate of infection.

“The nature of the nightclub business goes completely against Covid-19 protocols.”