I strongly believe the policy by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to permit social gatherings in green and yellow zones without inter-zone travel restrictions may be counter-productive and not thoroughly thought through.
Without inter-zone restrictions, there is a glaring loophole where people that intends to do such social events, they can just take a hour drive to Lundu, Sematan, Bau or even Asajaya to have their social events, be it weddings, gatherings or even functions since there is no inter-zone travel restrictions.
Then the risk is that we may increasing the risk of bringing the virus from a Red or Orange Zone to a Yellow or Green Zone, spread it among the participants of the functions itself, and on top of that risking spreading it to that local community when they drop by the nearby town or market to buy some local produce.
That is why without inter-zone travel restrictions, we may not be able to firstly protect these green/yellow zones, but also risk it spreading at these social events among the participants.
State Health director Dr Chin Zin Hing recently mentioned that “public gatherings are the main factor behind the spike in Covid-19 cases and clusters in Sarawak this year”.
He said an analysis by the Health Department indicated that funerals contributed to four clusters ranging from 25 to 2,000 cases each, while social gatherings led to 11 clusters with 17 to 61 cases each.
That is why when it comes to public gatherings, extra precautions must be taken. That is why I believe such policy must be properly thought through and loopholes be addressed.
One of the options that SDMC can look to implement is the need for a proper permit to have social events such as wedding, and to obtain such permits, they can monitor the location where it is being held and where the participants will be coming from to properly protect those in the area.
That way, there is an additional layer of protection for the good of the people. While I understand it may cause certain inconvenience, but certain steps have to be taken to properly protect us all. I also call upon the government to expedite the vaccination process so that we can slowly start restarting the economy and restart some social activities under the proper precautions in the new normal.