For the past two years, virtual reunions have taken over family and friends’ meet-ups during festive seasons.
Chinese New Year reunions have not been the same, as the only closeness shared was through Zoom calls.
This year, however, festival celebrations are back (hopefully), from the looks of how we are all learning to live with Covid-19.
Yes, this year, we can finally celebrate a (face-to-face) reunion dinner with family members.
The government has relaxed regulations by allowing family members to gather with no limitations on the number of people.
We can visit relatives and friends, but only by invitation (open houses are still not allowed). Even lion and dragon dances will be back in business.
This year, as we roar into the Year of the Tiger, it will be the third year of the pandemic, with Omicron on the tiger’s tail.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was reported to have said that there could be a possible surge in cases between February and March, and that Omicron will surpass Delta.
He added that based on the cases, it seemed that Omicron was not as serious as Delta.
Hence, while it is great that we can finally have a more relaxed Chinese New Year celebration this year, we should still remain cautious.
In Sarawak, the Chinese community are only allowed to have family reunions on the eve of Chinese New Year – limited to close family members.
Celebrations are only allowed on the first day of Chinese New Year to close family members, at only 50 per cent capacity (based on the size of the residence).
The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee still bans open houses and house visits to help curb the spread of Covid-19.
We are still cautious, having seen how Omicron has threatened festivities worldwide.
In China, travel restrictions have hit its residents for the third year as Omicron looms.
China’s National Health Commission recently announced travel restrictions based on their zero-Covid strategy, ahead of the Beijing Olympics in February.
Singapore has also limited group gatherings to not more than five people during the Lunar New Year, amidst the Omicron surge.
While I am all for finally being able to celebrate Chinese New Year with regulations being relaxed this year, it is best we scale the celebrations down on our own to avert any possible cluster or outbreak.
Omicron is still in the “grey”. It is still too soon to know whether Omicron can cause long Covid. While many believe that it is not as serious as Delta, mild symptoms may not mean reduced risk.
Let’s do more than celebrate Chinese New Year with food and firecrackers.
Let’s appreciate and be grateful for the time spent with our loved ones during family reunions.
We can still gather for this Lunar New Year, but remember to abide by the standard operation procedures (SOPs).
Be responsible, and get yourselves tested before attending any gathering. Always keep your face masks on and maintain physical distancing. Perhaps, we will need longer chopsticks to toss the Yee Sang.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.