Senior minister for security Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has halted any suggestion of a Ramadan e-bazaar, announcing today that the government will ban all forms of bazaars – including those facilitated by delivery services like GrabFood – throughout its movement control order, in place until April 28.

“It has been decided during today’s meeting that any form of business related to Ramadan bazaars or stalls, including drive-throughs and takeaways, will not be allowed. So there will be no more issues regarding Ramadan markets or e-iftar,” he said in a live telecast.

The main contention is apparently with the idea of having several vendors in one spot, which would increase the risk of the coronavirus disease spreading. “If we have a bazaar, for instance, with 50 stalls together, and there are e-hailing services that come to pick up their orders, that cannot happen,” Ismail Sabri said. “It’s as we said earlier – bazaars are not allowed. These stalls are not allowed.”

This contrasts with what the minister said yesterday, which was that e-bazaars would be allowed to commence, but only for deliveries. He said then that the government wanted greater clarity regarding this issue, “because our worry is that the number of vehicles on the road could increase if drive-throughs and the like are introduced.”

As the month of Ramadan nears and the order continues to be extended, questions have arisen regarding the disruption of usual customs. Last week, Grab announced that it would help set up a Ramadan e-bazaar together with the Selangor and Kuala Lumpur governments, after physical bazaars were banned.