By John Isaac
SARAWAKIANS are urged to stay put this Gawai celebration and refrain from returning to their villages or longhouses.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the festive season was the time of the year for celebrants, especially in West Malaysia or abroad to return home.
But this year, they could not do so because of Covid-19.
“I apologise to my brothers and sisters who were unable to return to their respective hometowns or longhouses due to inter-state or inter-zone bans imposed for the safety of all from the danger of Covid-19.
“I fully understand that this is the time for them who are finding a living in large cities, in Peninsular Malaysia or abroad to return to their respective places of origin to celebrate Gawai with relatives,” said Abang Johari in his Gawai message reported by the New Sarawak Tribune.
The chief minister said similar to the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration, this would be the second time Gawai Dayak had to be celebrated in different circumstances due to Covid-19.
“It is very sad because many are not able to celebrate Gawai with family and friends in the village or longhouse,” he said.
Abang Johari said Sarawakians must stay home if there were not important affairs to attend to outside.
He said the cause of recent Covid-19 clusters were linked to infections due to social events held for various purposes.
“Recently, a ceremony to celebrate Mother’s Day, even among immediate family members, led to the emergence of a cluster of infections,” he said.
He said therefore, for Gawai, celebrants had to be careful and abide by the standard operating procedures (SOPs) even among immediate family members.
“Maintain your distance, sanitise your hands and wear face masks. Do not share your cups, plates and bowl, refrain from shaking hands, hugging and so on,” he said.
“In conjunction with this year’s Gawai Dayak, on behalf of myself, my wife and family, I wish all the best and Happy Gawai Day 2021 to all Dayaks in Sarawak,” he said.