Sin Chew Daily
The long-awaited Chinese New Year SOPs were finally unveiled on Wednesday, with only 13 days left before the New Year Eve when Chinese Malaysians will enjoy their reunion dinners with their families and loved ones. And the SOPs this year are very straightforward, unambiguous, and in black and white!
The joint statement by MCA president Wee Ka Siong and national unity minister Halimah Mohamed Sadique came as a big relief to the local Chinese community. We no longer need to worry about roti canai flips any more or having to launch a video conference for the reunion dinner with family members far away.
To add to the festive mood this year, fireworks will also be allowed.
Last year, we were not allowed to travel across state borders to our hometowns to spend time with our families for the most important day of the year for the local Chinese community. This year, at least we get to have a more decent CNY celebration because the SOPs are clear enough and not too taxing.
National unity minister Halimah announced that family members can come together for reunion dinner on New Year Eve and gatherings with family members as well as visits to temples on specific days during the festive season.
However, open door activities and buffet feasts are still not allowed. Closed door dinners can be held, but the participants must be invited guests only.
As for restaurant dining, no additional guidelines have been provided, but existing SOPs such as scanning MySejahtera, temperature taking, wearing of face masks and observation of social distancing must still be adhered to.
The relaxation of CNY SOPs to a certain extent will significantly boost the business of local Chinese restaurants, gift shops and festive markets which suffered tremendous losses last year due to the restrictions imposed.
And finally Malaysians can go back to their hometowns to celebrate with their families, although millions of Malaysians overseas are still unable to return home due to the Omicron virus strain.
Although the VTL program between Malaysia and Singapore will resume from Friday, the number of tickets available could be halved, making it hard for family members living on both sides of the Causeway to celebrate together.
Although we can have a more decent CNY celebration this year, WHO sec-gen António Guterres has warned that we are still nowhere near the end of the pandemic. Although Omicron has very low incidence of severe disease, it is not to be taken lightly.
Within the one week from January 10 to 16, some 18 million new COVID-19 cases, the highest since the pandemic’s onset, were reported worldwide. Perhaps some of the countries have seen their worst, none is completely free from the scourge of the virus, including our country, of course.
Some irresponsible private clinics in the country have colluded with anti-vaxxers to offer counterfeit vaccination certificates. These people roam around freely, adding infection risks to people visiting public venues.
Coupled with SOP violators among the balik kampung crowd this CNY, we are afraid the number of post-holiday new cases will rise sharply.
While we can’t do anything to those irresponsible clinics, at least we must make sure we take good care of ourselves, our families and friends, and we mustn’t think we will be exempted by the virus.
Have a happy, prosperous and safe Chinese New Year!