by SHAFIQQUL ALIFF / pic by BERNAMA
THE Covid-19 quartet ministers’ meeting has announced the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for umrah, which resumed for Malaysians beginning yesterday.
Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture) said the new SOPs will be effective starting Feb 14, 2022.
“The travel agency’s person in charge (PIC) must monitor the pilgrims’ compliance of SOPs while in Mecca and Medina, during their travel back to Malaysia and at the country’s entry point.
“It is also mandatory for the pilgrims to have received their Covid-19 vaccine booster shots,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
Hishammuddin added that returning pilgrims will be allowed to undergo mandatory quarantine at home without having to submit a Home Quarantine Application.
Alternatively, they may choose to quarantine at a private facility, with all costs borne themselves.
“The current SOPs are binding for pilgrims who have departed today. However, when they return, they must follow the new SOPs.”
Meanwhile, the senior minister said Malaysia should be transitioning into the endemic phase as all states have entered the fourth phase of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
“At the quartet level, the transition to endemic phase planning is complete.”
However, the date of the transition will be decided by the Covid-19 Pandemic Management Special Committee (JKKPP) chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Yaakob.
Hishammuddin said there are seven pillars in the approach towards the endemic phase.
The pillars are compliance with the SOPs; a Heightened Alert System (HAS); a National Testing Strategy; Test, Report, Isolate, Inform, Seek (TRIIS); automated Find, Test, Trace, Isolate, Support (FTTIS); gradual opening of the country’s borders; and community empowerment ambassadors.
Hishammuddin said the country cannot avoid transitioning to the endemic phase as it is a comprehensive approach in living with Covid-19, although many people are worried about the rising wave of the Omicron variant and the increase in daily cases.
He also assured that the government will not be re-implementing the nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO) and Enhanced MCO would only be enforced in a specific area if there is an increase in cases.
“This is to drive the country and the economy forward. The implementation of MCO is no longer a good decision because people need to work and the education system must continue to run.”
Hishammuddin also announced that temperature checks and check-in books will be revoked beginning Feb 11.
With this decision, it will no longer be mandatory for premises to prepare temperature scanners and check-in record books at their entrances, but the use of the MySejahtera app is still mandatory.
“However, the government welcomes and encourages any premise owner who wants to continue checking body temperatures and using the check-in record books,” he said.