Customers eat in their car outside the Padi House restaurant. - AFP photos

Motorists parked beside the Padi House restaurant chain wave their hands out of their windows to signal to waiters, who come to take their orders that will be eaten on the spot. Lockdown-weary Malaysians have jumped at the chance for an unusual eating-out experience allowing them to enjoy restaurant food despite coronavirus curbs - in-car dining.

The Southeast Asian nation is struggling with a virus resurgence that last month prompted officials to re-impose restrictions, including a ban on dining inside restaurants. To get around this, the chain - which serves a mix of local and Western fare in the city of Cyberjaya outside Kuala Lumpur - came up with a plan to bring their menus and meals to car-bound customers.

"We serve the food on proper plates for (people) to dine in their car like they are dining in a restaurant," Chong Kar Yan, the company's social media marketing manager, told AFP. Their first drive-in dining site, in a car park beside one of their restaurants, proved such a hit they have now opened a second at another outlet in the city.

This picture taken on Feb 9, 2021 shows a waiter serving a customer using the "dine-in car" service outside the Padi House restaurant in Cyberjaya, outside Kuala Lumpur.

"I do feel safer eating in a car compared to a restaurant because we do sanitize the car," said customer Narinderjit Singh, when AFP made a visit to one of the in-car dining sites. "I sit at home throughout the day, I work from home - this gives me the opportunity to go out."

Officials recently relaxed rules, allowing people to dine inside restaurants again, as the number of daily cases declined. But Padi House will continue offering in-car dining, an option welcomed by customers who remain worried about the virus. Malaysia is still recording close to 3,000 cases a day and several deaths. "The good thing about this is that you'll reduce your interaction with other people, so that you can avoid COVID-19," said customer Ahmad Yunus Faeez. - AFP