PJ parks and hiking trails to reopen

Residents have been exercising on the roads and walkways in and around Bukit Gasing area as parks and hiking trails are closed during the MCO. — SS KANESAN/ The Star

Parks and hiking trails in Petaling Jaya are set to reopen with the announcement of the conditional movement control order for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang.

However, Petaling Jaya mayor Mohd Sayuthi Bakar said the city council (MBPJ) would wait for a circular from National Security Council (MKN) with the latest standard operating procedures (SOP).

“We hope to receive the SOP in the next few days and then we will open the parks based on the guidelines given, ” he added.

Under the conditional MCO, which takes effect tomorrow for the four states, Senior

Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said tourism activities at places such as recreational parks and nature parks would be allowed.

When contacted, Petaling Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Nik Ezanee Mohd Faisal confirmed that parks and hiking trails in Petaling Jaya would be reopened.

“Since the senior minister has made the announcement to allow recreational parks and nature parks to be opened, we will allow the parks in Petaling Jaya to be reopened, ” he said.

To ensure that everyone adhered to the SOP, Friends of Taman Aman chairman G. Rajendram said MBPJ could monitor the movement of people through CCTV cameras, which were connected to loudspeakers at the parks.

He added that MBPJ could limit the number of entrances and exits at parks and hiking trails for better crowd control.

The council could engage with resident groups such as residents association and Rukun Tetangga besides enlisting other volunteers to be its eyes and ears, he said.

“Some of the frequent park-goers can be these volunteers.

“In my neighbourhood, the seniors, who are mostly retired government servants and daily visitors to the park before the MCO, are good candidates.

“Even the tai chi instructor, who used to conduct lessons here regularly, can be among the volunteers, ” said Rajendram.

He suggested that the council could also create an app that allowed people to book a time slot to visit the park.

“With this sort of system, it is possible to control the number of people at a park at any given time, ” he said.

Universiti Malaya Medical Centre consultant geriatrician Prof Dr Tan Maw Pin said Covid-19 infections could also happen indoors if the SOP was not followed.

She emphasised that it was ultimately important to empower the community and ensure people knew how to protect themselves.

“Guidelines can be set to limit the number of people in a park.

“It is dangerous for senior citizens, especially, to be exercising on main roads.

“Physical activity is important and lack of it can lead to other issues such as weight gain too, ” she said.

Although the government had relaxed some guidelines, Friends of Bukit Gasing committee member Rajesh Mansukhla said not all hiking trails should be reopened.

“Bukit Gasing attracts between 4,000 and 5,000 visitors over a weekend and there are about five trails here.

“It is difficult to monitor these trails and people used to come in groups before the MCO, ” he explained.

“Unlike Bukit Kiara Park, Bukit Gasing is porous and keeping one-metre distance from other hikers is impossible.

“Bukit Gasing attracts hikers from other areas too and we do not want any clusters to form here.”

Rajesh said the authorities should reconsider opening hiking trails and crowd control measures must be taken at Bukit Gasing.

However, a Bukit Gasing visitor, who did not wish to be named, said some people had been hiking in Bukit Gasing, approaching it from Bangsar area in Kuala Lumpur even during MCO.

“It is better if the hiking trails are reopened and the public is allowed to make their own choices since Selangor is now under the conditional MCO.

“We need to learn to make changes and take precautions and live in the new normal, ” he said.

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