Childcare centres in Sarawak red zones may reopen to take in children of those in essential services

KUCHING: Childcare centres in Sarawak’s red zones, which have been closed since April 20, will be allowed to reopen from Wednesday (May 5) for children of parents working in essential services, says a state minister.

State Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the centres must apply to her ministry for approval before reopening.

This is in addition to allowing childcare centres in red zones to care for the children of frontliners.

“After referring to the state disaster management committee, we have decided that childcare centres which have applied and received approval to provide services for children of frontliners will also be allowed to take in children of parents in essential services.

“Other childcare centres can only operate for children of essential workers after getting approval, ” she told a press conference here on Tuesday (May 4).

Essential services include manufacturing, construction, financial services, municipal services, professional services, security, food and beverage services, retail and agriculture.

On April 19, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced that all educational institutions in Sarawak’s red zones would be closed for two weeks from April 20 to May 3.

The closure, which included childcare centres and kindergartens, was later extended to May 10.

However, childcare centres caring for children of frontliners were allowed to apply for permission to operate during this period.

According to Fatimah, the closure involved 2,518 kindergartens and 213 childcare centres in red zones.

She said her ministry gave the green light to 65 centres to reopen, accommodating a total of 187 children of frontliners, out of 78 applications received.

“Twelve applications were rejected as the centres did not have children of frontliners while one was turned down because the centre had yet to be registered, ” she said.

Fatimah reminded all childcare centre operators, staff and parents to comply strictly with Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP).

“If a child or any family member is unwell, the child is not allowed to come to the childcare centre, ” she said.

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