Azlan Othman & Fadley Faisal
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 COVID-19 Steering Committee announced that the Early Endemic Phase under the National COVID-19 Recovery Framework is set to end on May 31.
This was said by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah at the daily press conference yesterday.
The minister said, “In this regard, beginning June 1, the guidelines for COVID-19 control measures will be updated. There is no limitation on the capacity of mass gatherings (regardless of location, either at home or halls) and all sporting activities including competitions are allowed with no limitation on the number of spectators.
“Food preparation for any event at any premises is allowed without any restrictions including buffet meals; and no age restrictions for all congregations at mosques to perform the Friday prayers and five-time daily prayers.
“As such, children under 12 years are allowed to attend. However, the requirement to use personal prayer mats for Friday prayers and five-time daily prayers is maintained.
Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew also said face masks should still be worn in public buildings.
“The public is encouraged to wear face masks outdoors, especially in crowded places, and be screened for COVID-19 using antigen rapid testing (ART) kits prior to attending events and when not feeling well or are symptomatic,” he said. “Body temperature checks to enter premises are no longer required.
“The changes were in view of the COVID-19 situation and taking into account the vaccination rate in the country,” he added.
The minister also said, “We are able to return to our daily lives by adapting to the new normal. This is a result of the cooperation of all parties, especially the citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam who have worked together in complying with health guidelines, including their continuous support for the Government of His Majesty in jointly shouldering their responsibilities”. He added that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and health protocols shall continue to be complied.
In addition, he said citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam wishing to travel abroad are required to obtain travel medical insurance prior to their departure, for not only protecting themselves from medical costs due to COVID-19 infection, but also to cover other costs including treatment of other diseases and baggage loss.
The minister acknowledged that other countries have also started to ease more restrictions, including eliminating code scanning prior to entering premises as well as opening borders.
As such, the COVID-19 Steering Committee is monitoring and reviewing several requirements, namely the implementation of weekly ART testing for officers and staff at public and private sectors; BruHealth QR code scanning; opening of land and sea borders; and pre-departure swab tests, he said.
The outcome of these evaluations, subject to the current situation, will be announced at a later date.