MALAYSIANS are learning to embrace the new norms necessary in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone has now learnt to take responsibility in protecting themselves and their loved ones from the virus.
Schools, shopping malls, places of worship, and even kampung life have changed in the face of this pandemic. It has become almost second nature to wear face masks, have temperature checks as well as to frequently wash and sanitise hands.
Preschool Smart Reader Kids has included several additional precautions to keep both its charges and staff safe from Covid-19.
Operation and business development manager Norma John said staff feeling unwell were told not to go to work, while those feeling unwell during work hours were allowed to go home.
“We also had them declare their inter-district travel history if they have any relatives living with them who are sick with cough or fever. They also need to inform the management as they do interact and play with the children. At the moment, we still continue having Zoom meeting sessions,” she explained.
The company also has a daily checklist for staff, either by scanning the MySejahtera QR code or writing on the staff’s full name and temperature in the log book.
Furniture at the centres and offices have also been rearranged and floors marked to ensure sufficient physical distancing between children and staff.
Visitors must make prior appointments and prospective parents are not allowed to visit, but instead given videos of the specific centres they wish to enroll their children in.
Pupils have their temperatures checked while in the car and those with temperatures exceeding 37.5 degrees Celsius are not allowed to attend classes.
Face shields are mandatory for the children while face masks are optional.
The children are also regularly brought to wash their hands while toys and study areas are sanitised frequently. The centres and offices are sanitised thrice daily.
“We also don’t allow the children to play with each other physically. They can still interact and talk with one another but no touching one another,” added Norma.
“We have also formed an emergency response team for the offices or centres, and they are the go-to people in case of any emergency.”
For tHe Spring shopping mall, the new norm means more frequent cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitising to keep everyone safe at its premises.
“We have engaged a KL- company to apply anti-microbial solution on surfaces that can self clean the surface. A lot of big companies are using it so that people feel quite safe when they come. This is on top of our regular cleaning. We regularly spray the lift buttons, escalator handrails, countertops, and tables at the foodcourt and benches,” said tHe Spring Management Services Sdn Bhd executive director Datin Christine Ling.
Despite new procedures for customers before they enter the mall, she said there were no long queues as they could quickly check in using their smartphones and have their temperature taken.
For social distancing, the mall has signs and markers on the floors and seats, and there is a sign by the escalator to remind the people to keep three steps apart, she said.
Staff are not allowed to travel for work and come in to the office on a staggered basis — half working in the office and the other half working from home to reduce risk exposure.
“We target to have the work from home until September but we may extend it, depending on the situation. We are also spending money to upgrade the infrastructure so that people can work from home.
“We have also introduced the care kit for staff every couple of weeks. The kit contains sanitiser, face masks, and we also remind them to keep up their hygiene level. We are also in the midst of developing our own reusable face mask. These masks will be distributed to staff and given as corporate gifts,” said Ling.
tHe Spring also launched a personal shopper service to help customers buy things they need by sending a WhatsApp message, paying and having the items delivered to their doorstep.
The mall will also launch an out of town service for those living outside Kuching.
The new norm due to Covid-19 has also changed celebrations with family in the kampung.
Terama Kambora, from Kampung Tambilidon in Pitas, Sabah said they normally invite the whole village for their mother Tirung Simbug’s birthday.
“My mother is in her 80s, and we understand the risk of having many people around her. That is why we recently celebrated it with a cake only, without inviting people, even our cousins.
“We are limiting people visiting her, even her grandchildren from the city because we don’t want to take chances,” she said.
Whenever her children return for a short break from the city, Terama said they only allowed them to talk at the verandah and no kissing or hugging allowed.
“It is sad to see my children coming from the city, talking to their grandmother with physical distancing, but that is the only thing we can do to protect each other and until we are really sure that we do not have it,” she said.
She said almost every family in the village with senior citizens and children at home does not host celebrations any more.
“Everything started after the Movement Control Order (MCO) and even the Kaamatan celebration in May was cancelled. It was frustrating but to me, health is more important,” she said.
Apart from celebrations, religious services have also changed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Kota Kinabalu Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish has shared its weekend masses live on Facebook since the MCO was announced.
Although all churches have reopened under the Recovery MCO, only limited numbers of parishioners are allowed according to the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“I decided to go for the online service because it is easier for me to prepare at home. On Saturdays, the service in English will start from 6.30pm while on Sundays, the Mandarin service will commence at 8am followed by the Bahasa Malaysia service at 9.30am,” said Magderlina Christino, who lives in Luyang.
“I normally stream for the English service on Saturday evening, but if I’m caught up with my work, I will stream the Bahasa Malaysia service on Sunday morning.”
For Friday prayers, Sabah Mufii Datuk Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar said the permission is subject to the actual capacity of the mosque or surau and the ability of its commitee members to comply with the SOPs and to ensure one-metre distancing among the congregants.
He said those with symptoms such as fever, cough, colds, breathing difficulties, or sore throats as well as those with chronic illness, children aged below 15, and foreign nationals are not allowed to go to the mosque or surau during this period.