The Labuan Entertainment Center Owners Association today called on the Federal Government to allow its members to resume their activities. Since the beginning of the Movement Control Order (MCO), in March they face enormous losses amounting to RM600,000.
It says that entertainment businesses should be able to reopen business operations on the duty-free island, strictly following standard operating procedures ( SOPs).
Its pro tem chairman Frederick Chua said all the entertainment operators have been hard hit by the order to suspend operations.
“Along with other entertainment businesses including sports bars facing zero income, we are dipping into reserves to keep staff on payroll during the shutdown,” he said in an interview with Bernama.
Chua said spa services, wellness services, and reflexology, including blind masseurs services, have resumed operations since 1 July, and entertainment businesses should also be allowed to reopen.
In a series of strict new regulations to restrict the public and reduce the possibility of more COVID-19 spreading on March 18, sports bars and entertainment venues, cinemas, nightclubs, and karaoke outlets were directed to suspend operations through the compliance of the MCO.
“Everybody is facing losses because even if you don't run the business you have to pay salaries, electricity bills, monthly rentals as well as suppliers.
“It is hard to quantify exactly how much money is at stake, but entertainment businesses in Labuan being a duty-free-island and oil and gas hub have incurred a loss of more than RM600,000 over the last three months without earning a single penny,“ he said.
"Right now we cannot cover the rental of RM10,000 per month, we can barely afford to pay expenses and salaries. We have not been accumulating profits for the last three months, not all commercial landlords are holding back on rent relief,” he said, noting only a few of the operators are receiving wage subsidies.
“Labuan is already a COVID-19 green zone with no new cases over the last one month, and Labuan being an oil and gas hub with a high number of foreign ship crews who are always looking for entertainment.
“Most of these foreign ship crews are on standby on their ship for two weeks, before signing on for a new call of duty, and while on standby, they want to disembark to Labuan for entertainment.
"When they are in Labuan town, they will usually stay overnight in hotels including budget hotels and eat at our local restaurants…this will help generate economic activities,” Chua said.
The government should strictly adhere to social distancing SOPs if it could consider encouraging entertainment businesses to resume operations.
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