KOTA KINABALU: The Chinese New Year is going to be a much toned-down celebration this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and standard operating procedures (SOPs) imposed by the government.
For some, the pandemic has prevented them from returning home to celebrate the festivities with their family.
Wong Ker Jinn, 30, a sound and light technician working in Kuala Lumpur, had been looking forward to celebrating the Chinese New Year with his parents in Kota Kinabalu, whom he has not seen for a year.
However, his hope of returning home was dashed by the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
“I had planned to fly back to Kota Kinabalu on Feb 6, but the government announced the implementation of MCO until Feb 4 (which has since been extended to Feb 18).
“I was worried that the MCO might be extended and I would not be able to return home. If that was the case, the Covid-19 test I took would have been a waste of money,” he said.
Ker Jinn said the prices of Antigen Rapid Test Kit (RTK-Ag) for Covid-19 ranged from RM130 to RM180 in Kuala Lumpur, while the Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (Rt-PCR) test cost RM300.
Besides, he said there was no point going home if he had to be quarantined for two weeks.
“Perhaps I will fly back to Kota Kinabalu when the number of Covid-19 cases has dropped.”
Ker Jinn, the only child in his family, admitted that it was his first year celebrating the Lunar New Year away from his parents.
“My parents are a bit disappointed, but this is for the best.
“There are risks of contracting Covid-19 during air travel and I do not want to expose my family to that risk as well.”
He will be celebrating the Chinese New Year with his girlfriend, Kerryann Chin, 27, and her sister and brother-in-law in Kuala Lumpur instead.
Ker Jinn said his last trip home was Chinese New Year last year and since then, he and Kerryann had purchased tickets to fly back to Kota Kinabalu in April and October 2020 but both trips had to be postponed due to MCO.
“I have not gone home in a year.
“I miss home. I miss my mom’s food. I miss my family and relatives in KK.
“I want to go home so much but for my own safety and my family, it can wait,” he said, adding that he video called his parents every week to stay in touch.
Meanwhile, Kenji Chu, the co-owner of Kuo Man Restaurant, said the Chinese New Year celebration would be a simple family affair this year.
“We will be having steamboat for reunion dinner instead of cooking up a storm.”
Kenji and his elder brother Kenny’s family live with their parents.
“Luckily all of us live in the same house, or else we would not be able to have dinner together,” he said, referring to the Chinese New Year’s standard operating procedure (SOPs) that only allows reunion dinner among family members from the same household.
He said there would be no visit from relatives or friends to his house this year, nor would there be the customary lion dance by SJK(C) Yick Nam lion dance troupe on the second day of the Lunar New Year at Kuo Man Restaurant even though the shop would be open throughout the Chinese New Year.
Kenji admitted that he and his family did not even buy new clothes for Chinese New Year.
“The Chinese New Year celebration is definitely different this year as the festive atmosphere is almost non-existent. It is just like any other normal days.”
Kenji added that most people nowadays dared not go on house visits, nor did they welcome guests due to the risks of Covid-19.
He said this Chinese New Year would be a quiet affair among family members.