When Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the conditional movement control order (CMCO) on Labour Day, many Malaysians on social media joked that one of the first things they would like to do is head to their neighbourhood mamak for a nice teh tarik.
It seemed that some expatriates in the Bangsar area had a similar idea but instead of going to the mamak, they opted to have a nice ice-cold glass of beer while socialising among themselves at the local Healy Mac Pub.
Scattered around the outlet, the Malay Mail team saw around 10 foreigners enjoying their booze and lunch ranging from individuals at a table to small groups of three to four people.
Many of these regulars had arrived before noon and seemed to be having a good time catching up with one another. There were also a couple of individuals sitting alone, enjoying their drinks.
The odd one out in the whole setting happened to be a Malaysian Chinese couple who were having their lunch in one corner.
One English economist who requested anonymity told the Malay Mail that he had been in Malaysia since before Christmas for work and he had not seen his wife and child for months.
“I should have gone back to England before all this happened. I haven’t seen my wife and child since before Christmas. My visa has been automatically extended and I’m staying here alone. I’m not going back any time soon and I will only go back once it is safe back home.
“I must say, I am amazed at how your government has been handling the virus. I think they should have continued on until May 12, as everyone had agreed.
“I think because they relaxed the MCO, in the next two weeks you will have another lockdown because you will have another surge in cases,” said the Englishman who was sipping on his pint of lager.
Meanwhile, the pub’s manager Benjamin Sheehy of Ireland said that they are adhering to all standard operating procedures (SOP) given to them by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) including on how to implement social distancing.
He said that prior to the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent MCO, Bangsar’s Healy Mac could seat 176 patrons but now he has to cut down the number of chairs by more than half, with a capacity to seat only 76 patrons.
He added that only three customers are allowed per table and they maintained a two-metre distance between each table.
“My boss told me that he doesn’t mind not making a profit as long as the pub can cover our costs and our staff can make a living and survive. He said this is the sacrifice that we have to make and as long as we are running sustainably, it is good enough.
“We also follow all the SOPs given by DBKL. We take our staff’s temperature every morning before they can enter our premises. We scan our customers’ temperature before allowing them in and we also take their personal details such as name, phone number and residence,” said Sheehy.
She said that previously, they would house three to a room but after the MCO, they had decided to house two to a room. When asked if this move incurred more cost to the company, Lila said that their hostels were relatively spacious and large.
She told the team that all they needed to do was to convert the lower floors of the hostel into a room to house their staff from their four outlets in the Klang Valley.
“We provide them with hand sanitisers and masks. During our morning briefings, we told them to change their masks every three hours. We are also very strict on our safety procedures and if they refuse to follow our instructions, we will let them go immediately.
“I have to admit, some of them were a little stubborn and didn’t want to wear the masks until they were threatened with sacking,” said Lila who added that she and the group’s general manager Fazal Hussain will be inspecting all Healy Mac outlets in Kuala Lumpur and later, nationwide.
Fazal said that the pub has another outlet in Ipoh and one more in Penang. He has already obtained the letter and permission by the police for inter-state travelling to inspect the other two premises located in North Malaysia.