MALAYSIANS will have to give up our beloved tradition of “open house” visits this Chinese New Year, thanks to Covid-19.
Even more painful: There can be no reunion dinner with the extended family; the traditional meal that gathers family members from far and wide on the eve of the lunar new year has been restricted to family from the same household only.
While there are lots of complaints (and clever jokes) on social media about night markets being allowed but not reunion dinners, the reasoning is that dinners would be held in enclosed places and without masks while night markets are in the open air and visitors will be masked, lessening the risk of infection.
And imagine this scenario too: One household has a member who is still required to go into work; this person is unknowingly exposed to Covid-19 and then visits beloved elderly relatives in another household for the dinner.
With more than 20,000 Covid-19 cases reported in the last six days, there is simply no other option but to keep households separated – and safe.
Malaysia is not the only country expecting a more moderate celebration of this lunar festival.
Chinese-majority China and Hong Kong have also laid out stringent SOP, including banning all travel plans, to safeguard their country and people.
It will not be easy, though, missing out gathering with family – for many, this happens only once a year.
We must be psychologically prepared to miss the hugs and be content with virtual gatherings.
Perhaps this would be a good time to think about making those video calls home more frequently, to appreciate and connect with ohana (family) more with messages and gifts.
The government has promised free vaccination for 26.5 million Malaysians, with the rollout set to begin at the end of this month.
The three-phase vaccination programme, the biggest immunisation plan in the country’s history targeting 80% of the population, aims to have some 10 million people vaccinated by the end of August.
While we wait for the subsequent return to the traditional celebrations of festivals, we have to bite the bullet, really hard this time, and adhere to stringent SOP to at least reduce the number of daily reported cases to three figures for a start.
We did this once before, during the last movement control order period, we can do it now.
So remember, no interstate or inter-district travel, and if you must venture out (within the 10km radius allowed), wear a mask, wash your hands often or use sanitiser to be safe and to keep loved ones, friends and the community out of danger.
Sunday Star wishes all readers a happy Year of the Ox and happy and safe holidays.
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