MIRI, Jan 21 – Chinese New Year open houses, as well as dinner gatherings at restaurants and hotels, are banned in Sarawak this year.
Reunion dinners on the eve of CNY can only be held at home, with no more than 20 immediate family members present, and strict health measures in place.
Shaking hands and any other form of greeting that involves physical contact are barred, even among family.
Guests to the home must also have their temperature checked and register their attendance, with physical distancing of 1m to be observed at all times.
These are among the new standard operating procedures set by state authorities in a bid to curb the worrying surge in Covid-19 cases.
Circulars have been issued to Chinese communities in Sarawak, with the rules to also be observed on Chap Goh Meh, or the 15th day of CNY.
The Federation of Chinese Associations Sarawak showed The Vibes a copy of the circular, issued through the state Housing and Local Government Ministry.
The federation will help distribute it to thousands of Chinese groups statewide.
“There are many strict dos and don’ts decided by state authorities,” said a senior leader of the federation.
“These measures will dampen the CNY mood, but under the present circumstances, the SOPs are necessary.”
Also barred are house-to-house visits, public shows including lion- and dragon-dance performances, prayer ceremonies at houses of worship, and CNY bazaars.
Family gatherings of a maximum 20 members are allowed only on the eve and first day of CNY.
The SOPs also state that family members found to have a temperature of 37.5°C and above must be immediately referred to the nearest clinic or hospital.
The first day of the celebration this year falls on February 12.
Sarawak is currently the only state in Malaysia not under the movement control order (MCO). Instead, it is observing the more flexible recovery MCO.