Monday, June 24, 2024
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Brunei Town

Celebrating Raya in the new normal

Azlan Othman & Adib Noor

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, Bruneians are nevertheless over the moon for the festive Hari Raya while continuing to carry out social responsibilities to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In the daily press conference leading up to the closing of Ramadhan, the COVID-19 Steering Committee, 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, announced the easing of several restrictions and introduced health protocols to allow the public to safely celebrate Hari Raya.

It includes allowing private home events to cater to close family members at the maximum of 30 guests for indoor events and 200 guests for outdoor events.

Events at halls are permitted to 300 people, including the host.

Other guidelines include performing antigen rapid test screening before visiting family members, with those with positive results bring required to report to the BruHealth app and self-isolate at home; wearing face masks except when eating and drinking; and frequently hand-washing or using hand sanitiser. Meanwhile, visiting in groups and shaking hands are
not encouraged.

Local businessman Saifuddien said it is still important to take precautions ahead of the festivities.

ABOVE & BELOW: Children show off their new Hari Raya outfits; and a child holds a bottle of hand sanitiser and Raya packets. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN & ADIB NOOR

ABOVE & BELOW: Masked family members enjoy time together

“Self-screening for COVID-19 should still be practised during gatherings for everyone’s safety.

“The limit on indoor house gatherings allows us to spend more time with the host,” he told the Bulletin.

For new parents Azim and his wife, this year is momentous as it provides them the opportunity to introduce their newborn to family members.

“That’s why this Raya is so important to me because I want to announce to my extended family that I have my own family now,” Azim said.

Meanwhile, Nurul Waddaah said, “The announcement of Hari Raya was a shock because we predicted that Syawal would fall on Tuesday.”

She and her family look at Raya as an opportunity to earn an extra income by selling Raya biscuits. “We still had orders to finish as well as cleaning and decorating the house for the first day of Raya,” she said.

She said the long list of orders from customers is a sign that the people of Brunei were looking forward to the celebration this year.

Dolly Ahmad told the Bulletin, “Earlier, the first day of Raya, group chats were normally filled with family members greeting each other and sending pictures of their outfits. Now, the chats are flooded with pictures of ART results prior to the visit.”

However, the standard operating procedures gave the first day of Raya a new meaning.

“With little to no gatherings due to COVID-19, it was still nice to see everyone physically. It makes you appreciate the little things,” Dolly added.