lifestyle

Celebrating Chinese New Year the safe way

Chinese New Year is almost upon us! In Malaysia, we hear Chinese festive songs being blasted in public, and see red and gold-coloured decorations being displayed on the streets and malls in droves.

After all, the first day of Chinese New Year will begin on Feb 1, which is next week!

Unlike the past two years, Chinese New Year celebrations this year will be a more joyful affair. This year, gatherings between family members and house visits have been permitted, even though these gatherings are subject to the Chinese New Year standard operating procedures (SOP) that were released by the Ministry of National Unity on Jan 19.

To recap, here are some of the key points from the Ministry of National Unity’s Chinese New Year 2022 SOP:

  • Family reunion dinners on the eve of Chinese New Year Jan 31, are allowed.

  • Prayer ceremonies on Feb 1 and Feb 2 are allowed. These are subject to the SOPs outlined in the Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan.

  • Special night prayers for the Hokkien clans on Feb 8 and Feb 9 are only allowed within the compounds of their respective houses.

  • Chap Goh Mei prayers at temples on Feb 15 are allowed in accordance with the SOPs outlined in the Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan.

  • Chinese New Year receptions organised by companies or associations must be held in a hall or restaurant.

  • Chinese New Year receptions are to be carried out by invitation only, and with a number not exceeding 50% of the space capacity. Open houses are not permitted.

  • Receptions cannot be held in multiple sessions and are not allowed to be open to the public. 

  • Lion and dragon dance performances are allowed, subject to the SOPs set out by the creative industry.

While it is good to be able to celebrate Chinese New Year with our loved ones again this year, we still have to remember that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. 

The danger of contracting Covid-19 is still very real, where precautionary steps are necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones. 

So what can you do as a host to protect yourself and your guest? 

As the host, you are responsible for making sure that you are able to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your guests. This means that while your guests are able to have a meaningful time during the festivities, they are also able to do it in a space where their health and safety are not being compromised. 

Here are some tips to have an enjoyable New Year gathering, while remaining safe:

  • Limit your guests to a fixed number per day for crowd control. This also ensures a safe and controlled social distancing environment.

  • Prepare your MySejahtera QR code and ensure your guests are checked into your venue of choice. In the event that one of the attendants is found to be Covid-19 positive, contract tracing will be easier. 

  • Request that your guests conduct self-testing one day before the event. 

  • Prepare hand sanitisers throughout the house, especially at the entrance, so your guests can clean their hands before heading in.

  • Ensure your home – or venue – is well-ventilated, if you can. Even better, have your celebration in an open space such as your lawn or garden. 

  • When having meals, prepare serving utensils to avoid cross-contamination. Instead of having guests dip into common tubs for Chinese New Year snacks, this year, consider preparing individual packs for each of your guests. Again, this is to avoid cross-contamination.

  • Finally, when the party has ended and after your guests have left, do clean up and disinfect the place thoroughly.

What is your responsibility as a guest?

Instead of relying solely on your host to prevent Covid-19 infections, you as a guest, also have to be responsible for your actions and minimise any risks to others as well.

Here’s what you should ideally do: 

  • Conduct a self-test before visiting the Chinese New Year reception. 

  • Try to limit yourself to only visiting less than five houses in a day. After all, the more houses you visit in a day, the higher the risk of exposing yourself to the danger of Covid-19. By limiting your visits in a day, you are also minimising the risk to other people as well.

  • If you are showing symptoms, please refrain from joining any Chinese New Year receptions, no matter how tempting. It not only minimises the risk of spreading the virus to others, you will also be protecting yourself from others when your immune system is not in the best condition. 

  • Always wear your face mask and practice social distancing. Only take off your face mask when you’re eating or drinking.

  • Avoid sharing your food with other people to avoid cross-contamination

While these steps may not be 100% foolproof, these precautions help minimise our risk of contracting Covid-19, and that of others as well. 

To this end, let us celebrate Chinese New Year for 2022 meaningfully as we enter the Year of the Tiger. 

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous Chinese New Year!

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