Izah Azahari & James Kon
Brunei Darussalam yesterday announced the first phase of the de-escalation plan to lift the COVID-19 restrictions by introducing a gradual reduction in social distancing measures.
The announcement was made yesterday by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, at the daily press conference at the Ministry of Health (MoH) building.
He stated, “Taking into account the COVID-19 situation in Brunei Darussalam which is currently under control, and with the consent of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the MoH has announced the reduction of the social distancing measures implemented following the COVID-19 outbreak in the country since March 2020.
“The reduction of social distancing measures will be implemented in phases by imposing certain conditions beginning on 22nd of Ramadhan 1441 Hijrah, corresponding to May 16, 2020. This first phase in the reduction of social distancing measures will include driving schools, gyms and fitness centres, sports facilities (indoor and outdoor), golf courses, restaurants, cafes and food courts as well as stalls and markets.”
Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham added, “The MoH will continue to monitor the outbreak at a national level, as well as on regional and global levels, and carry out ongoing risk assessments to consider further mitigation measures.
“If the outbreak shows alarming signs, the Ministry of Health will not hesitate to tighten the social distancing measures that need to be taken to control the outbreak. The public will be informed about this from time to time.”
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin meanwhile confirmed that all food stalls under the jurisdiction of the District Offices, Municipal Departments and the Youth and Sports Department would re-open tomorrow.
However, restrictions for weekly markets (Tamu Mingguan) such as the Tamuneka Pasarneka Parking Area in Kuala Belait, Tamu Tutong and Gerai Ramadhan are still in place.
The opening of dine-in services for food premises such as restaurants, eateries, cafes and food courts must adhere to the following conditions: buffet meal preparations are not allowed, a limit of the customers allowed in at a time to only 30 per cent of the total normal seating capacity of the premises, body temperature checks before entering the food premises, and dine in customers are encouraged to make reservations in advance.
Food stalls under the control of the District Offices, municipal departments and the Youth and Sports Department are required to limit the number of customers allowed at a time to 50 per cent of the stall’s normal seating capacity.
Operators of food premises and stalls are also required to obtain a BruHealth QR Code specific to their premises and print the QR Code to be posted on the entrance for customers to scan upon entry and exit. Customers must have the event code obtained through the BruHealth app before visiting food premises and stalls.
Members of the public were reminded to comply with the regulations and directives related to the gradual reduction of the social distancing measures. Any violation of the issued orders is an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act (Section 204), which carries the penalty of a fine of BND10,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
Meanwhile, with no new COVID-19 cases reported in Brunei Darussalam, the number of cases in the country remains at 141.
As no recovered cases were recorded yesterday, the total number of recovered cases remains at 134. This brings the number of active cases still being treated at the National Isolation Centre (NIC) to six.
Two of the cases at the NIC are in critical condition, with one requiring a heart-lung machine (ECMO) and respiratory assistance, while the other only requires respiratory assistance. Meanwhile, the rest are in a stable condition.
Currently, 108 individuals are undergoing quarantine in accordance to the Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 204), while 2,575 have completed their quarantine. In the past 24 hours, 173 samples were tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, bringing the total number of laboratory tests conducted since January to 16,523.
In its breakdown of COVID- 19 cases in the country, healthinfo.gov.bn revealed that there are 110 cases in the Brunei-Muara District, 25 in the Belait District and six in the Tutong District.
For information, visit the official website of the Ministry of Health at www.moh.gov.bn, or contact the Health Advice Line at 148, or through the web application healthinfo.gov.bn.