WHEN the conditional movement control order was extended to Jan 14, there was hardly a reaction to the announcement in the social media sphere.
For example, when a former college mate posted this news in a WhatsApp group chat, his thunder was stolen by videos of dolphins leaping near the waters off Langkawi.
Instead of the usual flurry of questions on what would be the latest set of dos and don’ts, people were more interested in posting photos of food and holidays.
What made it different this time? For one, there are a lot less restrictions now.
The two-persons-per-car limit is no longer in force. Passenger count is now based on vehicle capacity. So now the whole family can go out.
The food scene has also swung back into action. There are now no more limits to the number of diners per table as long as physical distancing is observed.
Social events like birthday celebrations and weddings are also allowed, bringing much cheer to event companies.
Conferences and exhibitions have also been given the nod to resume. Companies which did not waste any time in pushing webinar packages at the start of the MCO in March might now enjoy the monetary rewards from on-site participants as well as those who might want to join in online.
Another plus point is that indoor playgrounds, theme parks and attractions, including the National Zoo, are also open.
Never mind if they can only operate at half the capacity. Anyone who has spent half a day lining up for a turn on a water coaster ride will surely love the idea of a smaller crowd.
Fingers crossed park operators will not turn around and say since they can only operate at half capacity, they will only offer us half of their rides and for only half the duration!
Inter-district and interstate travel is no longer banned, unless the areas in question have been put under complete lockdown.
It would seem that the general mood became brighter the moment the travel ban was lifted in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor on Dec 7.
At Fraser’s Hill in Pahang, Sean Yap, 43, who converted a former petrol station into a coffee and cacti place two years ago, said the decision brought a big relief.
In terms of logistics, he and his wife had to travel to Petaling Jaya to get their pandan gula melaka and burnt cheesecake from a home-based baker three times a week.
He said he had to get a police permit each time to travel from Raub district which is a green zone, to Petaling Jaya, a red zone.
And compared to before the lifting of the travel ban, where he could only sell half-a-cake daily, Yap can now easily move up to five per day.
One social influencer promptly packed herself and her three children for a beach vacation with a group of friends to Penang when the ban was lifted.
She was then joined by a former college mate who had taken sanctuary in Kedah since the start of the MCO. It was a wonderful reunion.
Though some areas are still under conditional MCO, it looks like life has almost returned to normal.
But ground sentiments prove otherwise.
Happy as Yap may be about the improved economy, the restaurateur admitted to having mixed feelings over the increased number of visitors.
“We still have a high number of Covid-19 cases.
“So if a big crowd comes in, I will be concerned about ensuring physical distancing, ” he said.
One netizen predicted that we might soon see a return of a total lockdown if people continued to go about their everyday business without taking preventive measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Another said she declined her family members’ invitation to dine out even though it was to celebrate her own birthday.
“They say I have ‘Covidphobia’, ” she wrote.
Other netizens seem to be on her side, insisting that it may be the very thing that will allow her to have more birthday celebrations in the years to come.
A look at the SMSes sent by the National Security Council (MKN) carry constant reminders that the war against Covid-19 is far from over.
On Dec 29, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob warned that stricter regulations might be enforced again if cases continue to spike.
“For now, Health Ministry has not advised the MKN on this matter but we are not discounting it, ” he said in a media briefing.
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