As part of the move to curb the spread of COVID-19, the government has allowed the visits to be only on the first day of the Aidilfitri celebrations, on condition that the standard operating procedure (SOP) is observed, including limiting visitors to 20 people, practising social distancing and maintaining hygiene.
There were some stubborn folks who refused to comply with the SOP and attempted to cut across state lines to get back to their hometowns, but the majority of people observed the new normal for the celebrations this year.
For instance, mosques, surau and graveyards to which most Muslims thronged on the first day of Syawal each year, were quiet and devoid of people following the ban imposed in most states.
Instead, many Muslims were encouraged to perform the Aidilfitri prayers and conduct their own sermons among family members in the privacy of their homes.
Meanwhile, many took advantage of technology by making video calls to connect with their loved ones as a way to appease their aching hearts.
The tradition of Aidilfitri visits has always been a way for families and friends to reconnect, but this year, they were not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic as that would have put people at risk, especially the vulnerable groups which comprised the elderly, those suffering chronic diseases, and children.
According to Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, 62.6 per cent of deaths caused by COVID-19 were among those aged 60 years and above, while 80.7 per cent were people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease and other health complications.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has reminded people several times to avoid meeting others even though some leeway has been given for the celebrations, as in other countries, there have been cases of COVID-19 infections arising from social visits.
He gave the examples of incidents in Bahrain and New Jersey, America, where in the first instance, a family of 16 met up for iftar (break-of-fast), and in the other, four people met for a meal, and all were later infected by COVID-19.
The government’s ban on social visits during Aidilfitri is for good reason – to curb the spread of COVID-19 which could cause death among people at high risk.
So, for their own sakes, Muslims have been urged to bear with the new normal set for Syawal celebrations.