With freedom comes responsibility

Easing back in: As the country heads towards endemicity, more people are beginning to enjoy shopping as normal ahead of Hari Raya. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah cautiously welcomes the easing of Covid-19 standard operating procedures, urging the public to place a high level of self-responsibility in checking the spread of the infection in the state, Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said.

“We welcome the relaxation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) with big doses of caution and individual responsibility,” he said.

He said the intention is to enable people to resume daily life as normal as possible but this comes with responsibility.

“Enthusiasm (over the easing of SOPs) should be tampered with realistic expectations as complacency will lead to a new round of infection,” he cautioned.

Sabah has done well in managing the pandemic and controlling the transmission so far, he said.

“We should take lessons from what happened in some countries when restrictions were eased.

“The ultimate cost to the community and the economy is simply too big for our country to bear if a new wave of massive transmission strikes again,” he said, urging the public to continue practising safe measures to ensure the infection remains under control.

He said recent surge of cases in other countries like China should be a reminder that the virus is still very much in the community.

On whether the state was going to adopt the new SOPs that take effect on May 1, Masidi said the state would adopt it.

“Yes, we will be following them, subject to adjustments if and whenever necessary,” he added.

Sabah’s Covid-19 cases spiked after the state elections in September 2020 and the number of daily cases fluctuated between highs and lows over the next 18 months, only cases beginning to ease only in the last two months.

Masidi said that the number of daily cases were stabilising with the state was recording below hundred cases.

Yesterday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced the easing of SOPs that included allowing people to enter premises regardless of vaccination status and the use of mask being optional in open areas.

Meanwhile in KUCHING, the relaxed Covid-19 SOPs making face masks optional outdoors and doing away with pre-departure PCR tests for overseas travellers are good news for tourism, said a Sarawak minister.

Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the relaxed SOPs, which will come into effect on May 1, were very much welcomed.

“We have to slowly ease the Covid-19 restrictions as we cannot live this way forever,” he said, adding that Sarawak was likely to follow the relaxed SOPs announced Khairy yesterday.

In particular, Karim was glad that the wearing of face masks would no longer be mandatory outdoors, although they would still be compulsory indoors and when using public transport.

“Many other countries have done this and we are slowly heading towards endemicity.

“It will help to boost tourism. For visitors from countries that don’t require the wearing of masks, they may not feel comfortable when they come here,” he said, adding that wearing of masks could not be lifted totally as the Covid-19 virus was still present in the community.

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