PETALING JAYA: Recent backlash against a Kuala Lumpur-based cafe for turning away unvaccinated customers has sparked critical public discussions on whether vaccination status remains relevant after the government relaxed the standard operating procedures (SOP) on April 1.
The incident became the talk of the town when the operator did not allow unvaccinated customers to enter the cafe, saying it was for public safety.
Occupational health, emergency and public health expert Dr Hanafiah Bashirun said vaccination status does not matter as Covid-19 infection and transmission could affect both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
He said those with red MySejahtera profiles are the ones who should not be permitted to access premises due to the high possibility of them transmitting the virus.
“I pity the restaurant owner because his understanding of Covid-19 is still poor. When it comes to the virus, it doesn’t matter if you have been vaccinated or not because the risk of infection and transmission is the same. That is the reason for the relaxed SOP.
“As per the new understanding of the spread of Covid-19, we do not have to wear face masks when outside because the risk of transmission is very low as there is good ventilation compared with indoors.
“For me, the most important thing we need to be concerned about are those who are supposed to be quarantined and those whose MySejahtera status are in red. These are the people we should not allow to enter any premises because the risk of them transmitting the virus to others is higher.”
Meanwhile, Aunty Manjus restaurant managing director Mahendaren Suppaya said his employees always check customers’ MySejahtera status before allowing them to enter the restaurant to ensure the safety of the public and workers.
“We ask our customers to show their MySejahtera status and allow them to dine in only if it is blue. But if it is in red, we definitely will not let them in.
“Customers will cooperate when we ask for their MySejahtera details. But sometimes, they want to know the reason for it because the government has relaxed the SOP.
“However, the Covid-19 outbreak is still there and I think it is our responsibility to keep the premises clean and safe for other customers.”
NZ Curry House manager Muhamad Noor Zainal said his employees are still performing routine checks on customers’ MySejahtera status just like they did during the height of the pandemic.
“We used to check customers’ vaccination status since it was compulsory to get two doses. However, ever since the government imposed the new SOP, we only check their MySejahtera status.
“Currently, we are short of staff but we are still doing our part to prevent the spread of the virus by checking the MySejahtera status of customers before allowing them into our restaurant.”
Flowers and Coffee shop supervisor Lim Amy Nei said she only admits customers with a low-risk status.
“We have stopped checking people’s vaccination records, but we still check their MySejahtera status as it is mandatory and required under the new dine-in SOP.
“So far, I have had no issues with customers because they normally provide their MySejahtera details for verification.”