KUALA LUMPUR: Fifteen immediate family members who stay within a 10km radius of each other are now allowed to attend the reunion dinner for Chinese New Year’s eve on Feb 11 under the revised standard operating procedure for the festival.
However, they must not travel outside of their state or district.
National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Sadique said this was part of the revised SOP for the celebration agreed upon during the National Security Council’s technical meeting yesterday.
The meeting was chaired by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
“The meeting also agreed to allow religious activities at houses of worship on Feb 11,12 and 19.
“The duration for prayers is 30 minutes, to be followed by sanitisation for another 30 minutes before the next slot for prayers. Prayers will start from 6am until 2pm.
“Prayer activities on Feb 19 are permitted within the compound of homes at night for the traditional Chinese New Year celebration for the Hokkiens, ” she said in a statement.
Unity officers, reminded Halimah, would be tasked with monitoring SOP compliance.
She urged the Chinese community in Malaysia to celebrate the Year of the Metal Ox in a new normal and to always adhere to the SOP.
“They are also reminded to maintain good hygiene and ensure physical distancing to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country, ” she said.
The revised SOP came in the wake of calls by several Chinese groups, including MCA, for a review.
Last Thursday, the government announced the SOP, among which was one stipulating that only those living under the same roof could be present for the reunion dinner and prayers.
This led to a backlash from the Chinese community, especially among those whose family members live nearby.
Prayers at temples were also not allowed, except for five of the temple’s committee members, while lion dances, lantern processions, chingay and other stage performances are prohibited as is cross-border travel.
In response, Ismail Sabri had said that he was puzzled by the backlash over the SOP as discussions had earlier been held with the relevant religious and cultural bodies.
However, groups which attended the meetings said they were not told of the eventual decision and that they only gave their views.