The state government of Sarawak has given its approval to new standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding Chinese New Year. The state’s SOPs are less stringent than those imposed in each of Malaysia’s other states.
Details About the SOPs
For reunion dinners to be held on the eve of Chinese New Year (Feb 11), up to 20 family members may attend. These dinners are only allowed to be held at home. Hotels and restaurants are not permitted to hold reunion dinners. The limit of 20 family members will ensure that suitable physical distancing will exist.
Sarawak’s upper limit of 20 family members stands in contrast to the limit of 15 which exists in other states. In addition, other states require all attendees to arrive from within a 10-kilometre radius of the destination.
According to the SOPs which were issued by the state’s disaster management committee, Chinese New Year celebrations in Sarawak will be restricted to the first day of the holiday (Feb 12). For these celebrations, a maximum of 20 family members at any one time may enter. Everyone who is to attend a celebration must first have their temperatures taken and their details registered for contact tracing purposes before they may partake in the festivities.
Only temple committee members may conduct prayers at temples. These prayers may only be performed on the first day of Chinese New Year. Up to 12 people may enter at a time; however, the exact figure will be subject to the size of the temple.
Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations (SFCA) president Datuk Richard Wee said that Chinese associations as well as individual families in the state would strictly adhere to the SOPs. He also mentioned that Sarawak’s Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) had engaged with various Chinese associations to obtain feedback so that suitable SOPs could be crafted. “We have worked well together and Unifor has been willing to listen to our views. I think consultation between parties is important to achieve acceptability by all instead of issuing instructions without discussions with the relevant bodies,” he said.
Not every activity related to Chinese New Year received the go-ahead from the state government. Lion and dragon dances, open houses, and house-to-house visits remain banned.
Sarawak has largely avoided the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia. To date, it has recorded a total of 5,760 infections; this figure ranks it ninth in the country. The divisions of the state which have experienced the most Covid-19 cases are Sibu, Kuching, and Miri. A total of 53 people in Sarawak have died because of the virus.
9th February 2021 15:00
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