Brunei enters Level 2 de-escalation plan tomorrow

James Kon

As Brunei Darussalam enters Level 2 of de-escalation plan from tomorrow, mosques, suraus (including in shopping complexes) and religious halls will be allowed to be opened for daily prayers apart from Friday prayers; while restaurants, cafés and food courts are allowed to operate at an increased 60 per cent capacity.

These are among the many new reductions of social distancing measures shared by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at the daily press conference yesterday.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said, “With the current situation of COVID-19 in Brunei Darussalam 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 Ministry of Health (MoH) would like to inform the public on additional reduction of the social distancing measures commencing Monday, 23rd of Syawal 1441, Hijrah corresponding to June 15, 2020,” he said.

For the latest easing of social distancing measures, the minister explained, “Senior citizens activity centres, museums, galleries and libraries as well as Internet cafés are allowed to open as new activities at Level 1. While mosques, suraus and religious halls, driving schools, gyms and fitness centres, indoor and outdoor sports facilities, golf courses, restaurants, cafes and food courts, and markets are escalated from Level 1 to Level 2.

“Mosques, suraus and prayer halls will be opened for Friday prayers and five daily prayers, which is only to perform the prayers. This includes for all suraus at shopping complexes and other respective suraus, commencing on Subuh prayer, Monday, 23rd of Syawal, 1441 Hijrah corresponding to June 15, 2020.”

The Minister of Health also said that each congregant must scan the QR code on BruHealth app “every time they enter mosques”. The guidelines to perform Friday prayers are similar to previous announcement.

“Social and physical distancing, using the BruHealth app and scanning the QR code, temperature checks before entering the mosque will be implemented and congregants are advised to wear face masks, as well as to bring their own prayer mats and to sanitise their hands before entering the mosque,” he said.

Women and children under the age of 15 years are still restricted to attend Friday prayers but allowed to participate in the daily prayers. Individuals who have yellow codes will be allowed to enter mosques, suraus and prayer halls only for performing daily prayers.

Meanwhile, for driving schools, the minister said that small-size classes are allowed at 60 per cent of the normal capacity at any one time. Other terms are to be maintained as with the directives and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC).

Internet cafés are also allowed to operate at 30 per cent capacity from the usual capacity at any one time according to the directives and guidelines issued by the MTIC.

Restaurants, cafés and food courts are allowed to operate at 60 per cent of the normal capacity at any one time, whereas food stalls and markets that offer dine-in facilities are allowed to open at 75 per cent of the normal dine-in capacity at any one time. Other terms are to be maintained as with the directives and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The minister reminded that all visitors attending to the aforementioned premises are required to comply with the directives and guidelines of social distancing issued by relevant ministries and those with signs of infection should not come to these premises.

Any actions found to be in violation of the directives shall be an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 204) which carries a fine of up to BND10,000 or imprisonment up to six months or both. The MoH will not hesitate to take legal action against anyone who does not comply with the directives.

He also warned that the MoH will continue to monitor the situation of the outbreak at the national as well as regional and global level and carry out ongoing risk assessments to consider further mitigation measures. If the COVID-19 situation becomes alarming again, the MoH will tighten the social distancing measures that need to be taken to control the outbreak.