As the Chinese community ushers in the Lunar New Year (or Spring Festival), one of the most important events in the Chinese calendar, celebrants have had to acclimatise to the new norm in the face of COVID-19.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Lion Dance performance at his home, Chinese Chamber of Commerce Bandar Seri Begawan (CCC BSB) President Malcolm Lim said the new norms have brought with it differences in terms of the way visitors are received, adding that “nonetheless it is still a joyous moments for families.”
“Following the Ministry of Home Affairs’ advice on celebrating the festivities, people are reluctant to make Chinese New Year visits. This is especially for those with unvaccinated children. They are choosing to forgo their usual visits, and to stay home.
“I have had a 50 per cent reduction in the number of visitors. Even the children from the surrounding areas did not show up this morning, like they always do. Clearly they are aware of the restrictions and that celebrations are only to be held among close family members and relatives,” he said.
Unlike previous years, this year Malcom refrained from sending out invitations, describing it as “too risky.” And albeit visitors comprising family members and relatives, an antigen rapid test (ART) booth has been set-up to ensure guests are tested before entering the house.
“We will get used to it. Brunei Darussalam is far better than most countries, however, we need to expedite on the digitalisation front. This includes online shopping, which has yet to mature in the Sultanate, with ordered items taking weeks or even months to arrive, whereas in other countries, it would take two days, at most.”
As for the traditional lion dance at his residence, Malcolm said, “The ritual was brief, unlike the usual ones, in view of the restrictions and health advice. It was also to support the CCC BSB Lion Dance troupe during the auspicious occasion.”