Bars & Pubs in JB Now Putting Posters at Their Shopfronts, Saying ‘They Can’t Breathe’

Since you’re going to ask because of “can’t breathe”: No, this got nothing to do with George Floyd’s death or Black Lives Matter. That’s just a coincidence.

What this is really about, are affected businesses in JB calling for help due to the economic situation they are in.

And that’s why we’re back at playing the guessing game “how badly is this business affected by COVID-19?”

The answer isn’t a number, but just ‘yes’.

“PM please, we can’t breathe!”

About 10 business owners of bars and pubs near Taman Sutera Utama, Johor Bahru, have put up signs like this, with the sentence “PM please, we can’t breathe!” in various languages.

On the banner, it’s explained that the COVID-19 measures disallowing the operation of bars and pubs have already been 100 days.

Image: Facebook (GO JOHOR 食在好玩)
Image: Facebook (GO JOHOR 食在好玩)

It’s not just outside their own stores since you’ll find this on the road as well:

Image: Facebook (GO JOHOR 食在好玩)

And while they haven’t caught the attention of the PM, they did catch the attention of some Malaysian media, like Qiqi and GuangmingDaily.

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Three Months of “Zero Income”

Image: Qiqi

According to the business owners, since the restrictions were put in place from 18 March 2020 they were basically having a zero income scenario.

Even though some tried doing deliveries and takeaway, it didn’t achieve the result they envisioned.

As they explained, their businesses are about selling experiences. It is the atmosphere that people come to their stores for, and that isn’t something you can do with deliveries or a repackaging of products.

Ah Hock: Wait, I think I just got a radical business idea.

Hm, yes? Do tell.

Ah Hock: You see, since it’s the atmosphere that people go there for, I’m going to capture the air in the pub and sell it as perfume. Since people are itching to go to pubs, this will sell like hotcakes!

I don’t think that’s the kind of “atmosphere” they are referring to, but you do you, Ah Hock.

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Ah Hock: Just you wait. Don’t come begging for my secrets to success when I make it.

Ignoring our resident genius Ah Hock, back to the story.

About 753 Entertainment Venues Facing Permanent Closure

With family, employee salaries, rent, utilities and other expenses, they were already forced to use their own savings. Rental alone could be RM15,000 to RM20,000, with basic expenses adding up to RM30,000.

It’s estimated that about 30% of entertainment venues or 753 venues are about to close permanently, which also affects the livelihood of about 10,000 entertainers.

Basically, it’s as bad as you can imagine.


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They are waiting for directives for when and how business can resume again, so as to give them a heads up and prepare.

Of course, they weren’t just expecting to open like there was no pandemic.


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Equipment like contact tracing logs, disinfectants, thermometers for when the business can start again have already been prepared.

They are willing to work with the government and hope that the authorities will respond.

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