‘It is about spending quality time with loved ones this CNY’

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught many the meaning of celebrating life with their loved ones.

In welcoming the government’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Chinese New Year celebrations, Small and Medium Enterprise Association (SAMENTA) Central deputy chairman Datin Lorela Chia said the past two years had taught Malaysians to be more responsible.

This afternoon, the National Unity Ministry revealed that reunion dinners and house-to-house visits are allowed as the Chinese community ushered in the Year of the Tiger.

“I sincerely believe we have matured as a society. We are generally more responsible now,” said Chia.

“With the celebrations being allowed, we hope this year will be the year of the comeback … it will mark the auspicious new beginning, and everyone will do it prudently.

“As for the retailers, this will also mean a good comeback. They are already complying with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and managing the number of patrons at their respective outlets.”

Chia said many had already prepared for the Chinese New Year in advance and that Malaysians were generally more accustomed to making purchases online.

“As such, we may not see crowds like we did pre-Covid-19. The buying behaviour is different today.”

She also believed that people would choose to practice prudence although the community can go out and celebrate the festival while observing the SOPs.

“This is the second Chinese New Year, arguably the third, affected by the pandemic. If anything, the situation has taught us to appreciate family more.

“And people will take steps to ensure they and their loved ones remain safe, especially those who will be celebrating with their elders.

“By at large, most will be celebrating among the family and not on a big scale. It is not about the SOPs but more about the fear of the omicron variant. We are seeing people cherishing human interactions.

“Even traders and business owners will prefer to celebrate the New Year with a smaller crowd as they look at the impact of quality get-togethers rather than quantity of guests,” she added.

Malaysia Chinese Association president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, who was with National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Sadique when the Chinese New Year dos or don’ts were announced in Putrajaya, reminded Malaysians: “We can celebrate Chinese New Year, but we must adhere to the SOPs.”

Unlike last year, there are no restrictions imposed on the celebrations except for holding open houses. There are no movement restrictions as families can have reunion dinners and carry out house-to-house visits and receptions.

Separately, Stefani Wan said she was relieved she did not have to wait until the last minute to get the SOPs.

“Last year, it was announced a week before the celebrations, and there was much uncertainty then as we were under the Movement Control Order (MCO),” said Wan, who runs a public relations firm.

“I had planned for a big reunion dinner at a restaurant this year but was worried it would not be allowed due to the omicron variant.

“It is good that the SOPs are out early as those in the food and beverage industry can start planning for the big day.”

Insurance agent, Jennifer Chee, agreed with Wan and added: “My wish was for all those denied the chance to have a reunion dinner last year to do so this year.

“I am glad that will happen. I know many who want to travel interstate to visit relatives. That is now allowed.

“Hopefully, there will be no last-minute changes,” Chee added.