Hari Raya festivities limited to 1st day

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

HARI Raya Aidilfitri visits are only allowed on the first day and it will specifically be for immediate family members, in accordance with the latest guideline that is part of the Conditional Movement Control Order.

Other standard measures including social distancing, wearing of masks and handwashing are advised, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in his daily briefing yesterday.

“The National Security Council has decided to limit visiting activities to the first day and to 20 immediate family members only.

“The size of the home must also be considered to allow room for social distancing. The visits could be staggered to five persons at a time, for example,” Ismail Sabri said.

The advisory was issued as the country moves closer towards the end of the Ramadhan fasting month, with Hari Raya Aidilfitri expected to fall on May 24. Thereafter, the Kaamatan and Gawai harvest festivals will be celebrated on May 30 and June 1 respectively.

The public holidays would typically see Malaysians going out to celebrate, visiting family and friends, and praying in congregation. However, with the ban on large gatherings, the festivities are expected to be more muted this year.

Ismail Sabri said observing the guidelines will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, especially among the elderly who are more susceptible to the virus. “The whole idea of the partial lockdown is to limit physical contact to keep us all safe. It is up to us now to decide what is best for our families. This requires self-discipline. We have to protect those who are of high risk,” he said.

The minister cited examples in Bahrain and New Jersey in the US where families had tested positive for Covid-19 after gathering for a family dinner.

Four of seven members of the family in New Jersey died from the coronavirus in March. Nearly 20 other relatives were forced to self-quarantine.

Malaysia has kept new cases to double digits for nearly a month since mid-April, save for a slight three-digit uptick on May 2 and 3, with new cases falling to 16 on Tuesday — its lowest in two months.

Separately, the government has noted a spike in transportation fees including air fares and buses as operators are forced to reduce their capacity.

“We have been informed that the price for a flight to London, for example, has doubled to RM8,000 for an economy class seat,” Ismail Sabri said.

He said the Ministry of Transport will monitor the situation and provide relevant updates soon.

The International Air Transport Association last week said social distancing measures on aircraft could see air fares go up by up to 54% as there are fewer seats to sell. It was previously reported that local carriers Malaysia Airlines Bhd and Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd have considered the move.

Ismail Sabri also announced the reopening of government offices yesterday. He said service counters has started operating at full capacity from May 12. Standard operating procedures at the offices will include temperature checks, social distancing measures and the provision of hand sanitisers.