As of yesterday (May 12), the MCO that had been in place for eight weeks was lifted, to move into a next phase of CMCO (conditional movement control order) in which most economic sectors are allowed to operate if they follow standard operating procedures given by the government. As far as I can see, the CMCO mainly retains restrictions on interstate and overseas travel, and is a safeguard put in place to cover Hari Raya so that people don't balik kampung in a willy nilly fashion.
So today Leo and I made a trip to the nearby mall to buy things that we hadn't been able to buy from the neighbourhood supermarket, and also to scope out the situation on the ground.
Until today, we had been cooking every meal and only leaving the house to get groceries. In one instance, Leo had to go to Lowyat Plaza to get his computer fixed, but that was the extent to which our household had been exposed to the outside world. Today is the first time that I've stepped outside of the 300m radius of the house, where the supermarket is. So, to mark the momentous occasion, we decided to go and dine at at our favourite chicken rice place nearby our house.
When we arrived there, we realised in dismay that they had put up a barrier and were only permitting take out (they don't do delivery). Being that this was on our way to the mall, taking away would put us in a position of eating on the street, not something that we were inclined to do. While we were deep in discussion on whether to take our chicken rice away or just to leave, the restaurant owner, usually reserved and who rarely ever smiles at us, opened up the barrier and waved us in.
That is how we ended up in the surreal situation of being the only diners (at the only open table) in a decades old, hugely popular chicken rice shop where people have to queue during lunchtime to get in. Reserved Restaurant Owner apologetically took my name and telephone number as part of the SOP that they have to comply with. It seems that he was reluctant to open up dining in because of the procedures involved.
Chicken rice, oh chicken rice. How I'd missed you.
After leaving the chicken rice place we proceeded to the mall. In the mall it was then obvious how tedious the procedures are, whether for the customers or the shop owners, because in front of every shop is a registration counter where you have to leave your name and number, and in some cases your body temperature (each shop has a temperature gun - I always flinch internally when they point it at my forehead, as if they are going to blow my brains out) and time of visit. At some places they present you with a QR code that you're supposed to scan, but since I don't have Internet on my phone I always opt for the handwritten forms.
I feel that the registration desks in front of the shops would put an end to impulse buying or window shopping, since you can't just hop in and hop out in a low commitment manner. Personally there were a couple of times that I had wanted to check out something on the shelves, and just decided not to because of the bureaucracy that stood between me and the product. But then, maybe once you get in, you'd feel invested enough to give more serious consideration to buying, who knows. I just never got past that first barrier.
I wonder how long these measures will be in place. Probably for a good year or so, till we find a vaccine? And even then, who knows when we will have access to it?