This year’s Hari Raya will be celebrated very differently, and most would lament the fact that balik kampung, which is such a big part of the annual festive season, will not be allowed. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, says senior minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Under the relaxed conditional movement control order (CMCO) period that we’re in now, most businesses have been allowed to reopen, and the rules that marked the earlier MCO such as the 10 km radius rule, 10pm curfew, and one-person-per-car rule have been discontinued. However, interstate travel outside of the current grace period for those who are stranded away from home is still not allowed.

Ismail Sabri said the government decided to not allow visiting family and friends over Raya as there was no way the authorities can ensure that social distancing is practised at respective households.

“It is not like roadblocks where armed forces personnel can monitor the public on their compliance of regulations set. It also isn’t the same as SOPs (standard operating procedures) set at supermarkets because when at home, who is going to take your temperature before you enter the house, sanitise your hands and do crowd control?” he said on Bernama TV yesterday, picked up by Malay Mail.

The defence minister stressed that even though there are uniformed agencies placed under the special task force to monitor the public’s movement, it is not sufficient to control each house’s compliance of CMCO regulations nationwide.

“What we are doing is to enable us to take care of everyone. We don’t want Hari Raya to create a new cluster,” he said, adding however that things could change depending on the situation in the near future. “But as of now, we are exercising these regulations under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342),” the Bera MP said.

Ismail Sabri revealed that the ban on Hari Raya home visits also applies within state boundaries, and not just for interstate balik kampung. So for example, if you live in Ipoh and want to visit the family in Taiping, that’s not allowed.

“We are still not allowing Hari Raya visitations even though one is dropping in on family or friends within the same state. Hari Raya house visitations are on the ‘negative list’, and as long as it’s there, we do not have an SOP in place for it,” the senior minister said.

The government has opened a window of interstate travel opportunity specifically for those who have been stranded away from home, after fleeing the cities before the MCO started – this is for people to return home, and not to their hometowns. Currently ongoing, the window is from May 7-10, and a travel schedule has been released to ensure smooth flow. The police has set up roadblocks at major highways to ensure that only those who have permission are travelling.

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