Ismail Sabri: ‘Balik Kampung’ trips for Deepavali not allowed from EMCO and CMCO areas

Malaysians under the movement control order (MCO) areas will not be permitted to cross borders during the Deepavali celebration next Saturday, November 14, said Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today.

He said this was part of the standard operating procedures (SOP) developed by the National Security Council (NSC) for the festive period, which would usually see the public return to their respective villages or hometowns.

“Those living in areas under the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) or the conditional movement control order (CMCO) will not be allowed to cross sub-district, district, and state borders to return to their hometowns,” Ismail said during his daily press briefing.

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For Hindu temples situated in CMCO areas, devotees are permitted to attend the prayers but only on the first day of Deepavali.

“Temples in these areas must follow strict SOPs, including preparing counters at entrances to check temperature levels, and to screen out COVID-19 related signs including coughs, sore throats, and difficulty breathing.

“Attendance is to be recorded via the MySejahtera or an attendance book. Devotees with chronic illnesses, the elderly, and children under the age of 12 are not encouraged to attend,” he said.

No more than 30 people will be allowed into the temple at any one time, depending on its size and the ability to ensure adequate social distancing.

“The prayers must be conducted from 7am until 12pm, divided into five sessions with 30 minutes per session, which will be accompanied by sanitation operations at 30 minutes each before the other session begins.

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“The prasādam (food offerings for devotees after prayers) must be distributed in packaging to those in attendance. Devotees must leave immediately once prayers have concluded,” Ismail said, adding the SOPs were developed after the NSC consulted with Hindu religious leaders.

However temples situated in areas under EMCO will not be allowed to operate due to the risks involved.

For CMCO locations, those celebrating Deepavali in landed homes would be limited to a maximum of 20 people at any one time.

“For strata homes under 1,500 square feet, the limit is 10 people while homes of 2,500 square feet and above cannot host more than 15 people.

“All individuals and family members are encouraged to wear face masks, ensure social distancing of at least one metre, and always prioritise personal hygiene by using hand sanitiser and washing soap,” he said.

In EMCO zones, Deepavali celebrations were permitted only among members of the same household residing together, he said.

“They must ensure appropriate social distancing, personal hygiene, and avoid the 3Cs which are crowded areas, confined areas, and close conversation.

“Routine sanitisation should also be conducted, especially on dining tables and surfaces frequently coming into contact with touch. Visiting the homes of families and friends is not permitted for those in EMCO areas,” he said.

On Deepavali-related retail and business activities, Ismail said those in CMCO areas are permitted to do so only on premises approved by the local authorities or any relevant authority.

“Having said that, online retail activities are highly encouraged. For those in EMCO areas, (physical) retail and business activities will not be permitted,” he said. ― Malay Mail

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