WHETHER or not the powers that be will lift the interstate travel ban in time for Chinese New Year, my clan has resolved to stay put in our own homes.
Our clan decided to impose our own movement control order (MCO) even if the government levels down to the conditional MCO.
When better times come, we can hold reunions to our hearts’ content, without looking over our shoulders for Covid-19 all the time.
The first day of CNY falls on Feb 12, a Friday. That makes it a long weekend for all Malaysians to make our cultural exodus.
Going by previous years’ pre-CNY traffic – some people took eight hours to drive from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh – Malaysians might not hesitate to do it again, given half the chance.
There is no point in joining the crowd.
So my cousins and I have planned out a series of virtual reunions for CNY, using cool apps to do video chats and play games together.
This is going to put a big dent on our angpow collection campaign, for we have really generous uncles and aunties.
But the thing is that in the past week, some of those statistics on new Covid-19 cases included our distant relatives and friends.
Four distant relatives of mine in Perak tested positive last week. They are fighting the virus now.
My friend, six months into her first pregnancy, has to be quarantined after her sister and brother-in-law tested positive last Saturday.
Her family will be spending the festive season isolated in their respective homes with no chance to meet anyone.
It feels different when people you know are tested positive or quarantined. The numbers that the Health Ministry announces daily no longer seem so impersonal.
If your friends and relatives can test positive, so can you.
Although vaccines will be rolled out, it will likely take some time before everyone gets vaccinated.
With or without a vaccine, mass gatherings are still risky and I am sure most will want to keep the ones we cherish safe.
Malaysia has over 200,000 cumulative cases and if we are not careful, we can end up topping up the number just because we want to have some fun for Chinese New Year.
If we look back at 2020, one of the most important lessons we can learn is to stay put.
It was during last year’s CNY that Covid-19 spread like wildfire in China.
Millions from the cities returned to their hometowns in China, and that country’s lockdown started only in February.
This year, BBC reported that China is planning to dissuade its citizens from doing it again to avoid another outbreak.
Despite life returning to normal in most cities in China, they too are careful about the possibility of another outbreak.
Thus, with or without a vaccine, we too should take heed.
My family accept that this year’s festive season will be a quiet one.
We will hold our loved ones close to our hearts and hope we can reunite for a better celebration next year.
We hope you will do the same.