This year’s Chinese New Year celebration will be one to remember, as almost the whole of Malaysia falls under the Movement Control Order (MCO) until 18 February 2021. The rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country has seen strict SOP guidelines implemented for the festivities. Below are the updated MCO 2.0 CNY safety measures:
1. Family reunion dinners are allowed for up to 15 family members living within a 10km radius. Travelling is still limited to two people from the same household, without involving interstate or inter-district travel.
2. Prayers at temples on 11, 12, and 19 February (between 6am – 2pm only) will be allowed for a maximum of 30 people per session. Each 30-minute session is followed by 30 minutes of sanitisation. Worshippers will have to observe standard SOPs (mandatory face masks and physical distancing).
3. Night prayers for the Jade Emperor’s Birthday (天公誕) on 19 February by the Hokkiens can be done within the house compound.
4. Open houses and social gatherings are not permitted.
5. No dine-ins are allowed at hotels or restaurants.
6. Lion dances, stage performances, Chingay or lantern festivals are not allowed.
Celebrations in Sarawak
Chinese New Year SOPs were released on the official website of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing Sarawak (mlgh.sarawak.gov.my). Unlike the rest of Malaysia, movement between places is allowed except between zones placed under the MCO and CMCO.
1. Family reunion dinners are allowed for up to 20 people and are not confined to a household. However, dinner cannot be held in hotels or restaurants.
2. Celebrations are allowed on the first day of the festive season (12 February) for up to 20 immediate family members.
3. Household owners will be required to prepare thermometers/thermal scanners and QR code for MySejahtera or Qmunity check-ins (they can also jot down the details manually) for contact tracing purposes.
4. Practices that involve close contact such as handshakes are not allowed, while hosts are to ensure seating arrangements must be at least one metre apart.
5. Lion and dragon dances, open houses, gatherings in public spaces (e.g. bazaars and shopping malls) and prayers in temples are not permitted.
Celebrations in Singapore
The Singapore government has also released its own version of strict and detailed SOPs for the Chinese New Year. This includes:
1. Wearing masks at all times (except during eating and drinking). Masks must also be worn during the tossing of Yee Sang.
2. Avoid raising voices at all times. Lohei should be done without saying the usual auspicious phrases.
3. Multiple table bookings are only allowed for those from the same household. There should not be inter-mingling across tables.
4. House visits are limited to immediate family and to not more than 2 households per day.
5. Surveillance testing will be conducted on stallholders, shop owners as well as the F&B industry and food delivery persons operating around Chinatown from 8 – 9 February.
Let’s take precautions and celebrate CNY in a safe and SOP-compliant manner. By doing so, we will be able to prevent COVID-19 from further spreading and affecting the community and our loved ones.
#StaySafe and Happy Chinese New Year!