Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Jaafar in a press conference. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The government has expanded the COVID-19 de-escalation measures to include new activities and premises, while announcing that a number of existing measures will be progressed to a second stage, announced the minister of health on Saturday.

Speaking during a press conference, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Jaafar said due to the fact that the COVID-19 situation in the country is currently under control, “additional reduction of social distancing measures” will be introduced with the consent of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

Expanded de-escalation measures

Commencing on June 15, the additional de-escalation measures have been expanded to new activities or premises which include; senior citizens activity centres, museums, galleries and libraries as well as internet cafes.

According to the minister, the newly approved premises mentioned above will be running at an Operational Readiness Level 1, therefore, will only be allowed to operate at 30 per cent capacity following the guidelines and directives set by the relevant ministries.

An exhibition shown in a gallery of a local museum. Image: Courtesy of Museums Department

For senior citizens activity centres, museums and galleries, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) was on hand to provide information on the terms of the reduction of the social distancing measures for these premises.

Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan POKSMDSP Hj Abidin explained that senior citizens centres will only be opened to low-risk senior citizens and will only be limited to indoor activities.

Individuals with chronic illnesses and other forms of illnesses and symptoms, will not be allowed to enter the premise or take part in any activities organised in the centres.

The Royal Regalia Museum is now open and can operate up to 30 per cent capacity at one time. image: Courtesy of Museums Department

Meanwhile for museums, galleries and libraries, aside from operating at 30 per cent capacity at any given time and subject to space, group visits will only be limited to 30 individuals.

The premises will only be opened for three days in a week for five hours a day, said the minister, adding that museums, galleries and libraries under the purview of MCYS will only operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Operating days for galleries that are not under the purview of the ministry, on the other hand, are subject to their respective owners.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin during a press conference at the Ministry of Health. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“The premises mentioned will not be opened to members of the public who are experiencing any form of illness or symptoms such as fever and flu as well individuals who are at high risk of contracting dangerous infections,” added the minister.

The public is reminded that they are required to comply with all the regulations and directives related to the reduction of social distancing measures.

Any individual found to be in violation of or disobey any order issued shall be an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act (Section 204) which carries a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of six months or both.

Food courts and eateries in the country are now allowed 60 per cent seating capacity at one time. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

Progression of activities from Operational Readiness Level 1 to Level 2

During the press conference, YB Dato Hj Md Isham also announced that a number of existing COVID-19 de-escalation measures will be bumped up to Level 2, which will affect the following premises;

  • Driving schools
  • Restaurants, cafes and food courts
  • Markets
  • Mosques, suraus and musallas
  • Gyms and fitness centres
  • Indoor and outdoor sports facilities
  • Golf courses
Bodybuilder athletes at a local gym based in Lambak. Image: The Bruneian

At Operational Readiness Level 2, driving schools will be allowed to conduct small size classes at 60 per cent capacity at any one time, however other terms are to be maintained according to the directives and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC).

Restaurants, cafes and food courts are also allowed to operate at 60 per cent capacity at any one time however food stalls and markets that offer dine-in facilities are allowed to operate at 75 per cent guest capacity.

“Other terms are to be maintained as with the directives and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” added the minister.

Mosque operations

Upon the announcement, mosques, suraus and musallas will be opened to performing Friday prayers as well as the five daily prayers and this includes for all suraus at shopping complexes.

A view of the Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque at the capital. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“The guidelines to perform the Friday prayers are similar to the ones that were previously announced, however, for the five daily prayers, each jamaah must scan the QR code every time they enter mosques,” explained the Health Minister.

Women and children under the age of 15 years old are still restricted from attending Friday prayers however they are allowed to participate in the five daily prayers.

“For the five daily prayers at mosques, suraus and musallas nationwide, individuals with a Yellow Code will be allowed to enter,” added YB Dr Hj Md Isham.

He also reminded the public that each jamaah must use face masks, bring their own prayer mats and to sanitise their hands before entering the mosque.

A woman seen playing archery at the Jerudong Sports Complex. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Gyms, fitness centres, indoor & outdoor sports facilities and golf courses

Culture, Youth and Sports Minister, YB Dato Hj Aminuddin said that with the announcement made by Ministry of Health (MoH), “MCYS has taken the necessary steps to initiate Operational Readiness Level 2 for the four types of centers and facilities that will commence on Monday”,

“Under the Operational Readiness Level 2, the capacity for all the facilities mentioned have been updated while other terms and guidelines have been maintained as before,” the minister explained.

Gym, fitness centres, indoor and outdoor sports facilities, like the premises mentioned above are allowed to operate at 60 per cent guest capacity at any one time.

Fitness enthusiasts seen doing exercises at a locat fitness centre. Images: Azrina Zin

Golf courses, on the other hand, will now allow four players in one flight, however, buggies are only allowed to carry one individual at a time.

“Again, it is advised that individuals should bring their own sports equipment as sharing equipment is not permitted. 

Additionally, organised sports, team sports and contact sports are also not permitted,” YB Dato Hj Aminuddin reminded.

Each user will be required to use advanced booking prior to using the facilities mentioned and download the BruHealth application for QR code registration as well as to reserve a slot for the sporting facility of choice.

The BruHealth QR Code seen on the entrance of eateries and premises nationwide. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

“Owners of fitness centres and sports facilities should also establish a reservation system and timetable to ensure the safety of its staff and users,” added the minister.

COVID-19 updates

No new cases of the COVID-19 virus were reported in the sultanate for 37 consecutive days, leading the national tally to remain at 141 cases.

There were also no new recoveries making the total number of cases that have recovered from the coronavirus to stand still at 138 individuals.

However, one active case remains in critical condition undergoing treatment at the National Isolation Centre (NIC), requiring both respiratory and heart/lung machine (ECMO) assistance.

The newly-launched BruHealth app. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

In the past 24 hours, a total of 268 samples have been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, bringing the total number of laboratory tests conducted since January 2020 to 24,399 tests.

The minister went on to say that following the announcement on the BruHealth app, the minister said that the tracing app has accumulated 375,052 registered users including a total of 7,438 companies and premises having registered on the platform.

Meanwhile, a total of 2,437 business premises have downloaded the PremiseScan application.

“In relation to the PremiseScan application, all premises are advised to download the application to facilitate the QR code scanning especially for those who do not have access to mobile phone device to enter premises,” added the minister.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Second Minister of Finance and Economy, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Second Minister of Finance and Economy, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah was also present during the conference to announce the updated figure for the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

According to the minister, as of 4.20 pm on Saturday, the relief fund has managed to accumulate $14,355,701.72, adding that the fund will continue to be opened until a further date, which will be announced.

“Furthermore, the COVID-19 Relief Fund Committee has prepared a list of medical devices including those necessary for the NIC, and this list will be updated as soon as the account is closed,” he continued.

For further information and the latest development, visit MoH’s website www.moh.gov.bn, or by contacting the Health Advice Line 148 or through the BruHealth App or healthinfo.gov.bn.

Alternatively, members of the public can also get the latest information on the COVID-19 situation in Brunei through the official GOV.BN channel on Telegram at https://t.me/govbnofficial.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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