With Covid-19, we’ve made it to the life raft. Dry land is far away.— Marc Lipsitch, epidemiologist
Now, if you visit supermarkets in Kuching, some of them will demand to see your digital vaccination certificate.
“Your MySejahtera app, madam. Please turn to profile,” advised a staff stationed at the entrance of a supermarket last Thursday.
She looked at my digital vaccination certificate before allowing me to enter the outlet.
When I went to a different supermarket, the same thing happened. Then I asked the girl stationed at the entrance, “If first dose, do you allow a person to go in?”
“Yes,” she replied.
When I went to yet another supermarket, none of the staff demanded to see my digital vaccination certificate. Just scanning the MySejahtera app and taking my temperature were sufficient.
Sometime last week, the human resource people in my office wanted to get the list of all those who had completed their vaccination so we dutifully submitted our names.
This apparently followed a ruling from the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee that only fully vaccinated people were allowed to enter or work in enclosed premises.
Since there were still people who had not yet received their second dose, flexibility was given to business operators this month — that those who were working must have at least one dose of the vaccine.
Those ineligible to get the vaccine because of health reasons had to show health records obtained from authorised health officers.
The SDMC has advised those who have not yet received the second dose to not expose themselves to high-risk places such as crowded and poorly ventilated places because transmission of the Covid-19 virus is still high.
Besides supermarkets, some food courts in Kuching now also demand to see the digital vaccination certificates.
I don’t blame the supermarkets or food courts for their actions. With the contagious Delta variant surging in some urban centres in Sarawak, especially Kuching City, they are doing their best to carry on their business while protecting the health of their workers and the public who visit their premises.
By the end of this month or early September, supermarket operators in Sibu town will allow entry only to shoppers who have received both vaccine doses.
Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman Clarence Ting said the ruling could not be implemented currently because many people had not received both doses.
He said by the end of August, over 80 percent of the people in Sibu would have been vaccinated with both doses. That’s when the SOPs will be fully implemented.
Ting added that initially, supermarkets were encouraged to allow entry to those vaccinated with at least the first dose.
“According to the new SOPs released by the SDMC, under Sarawak’s NRP Phase 2, only employers and workers in the private sector who have completed two doses of Covid-19 vaccination are allowed to come to their workplaces.
“Premises owners and their workers must ensure that only customers who have completed two doses are allowed entry,” he explained.
On August 18, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg proudly announced that Sarawak had become the first Malaysian state to achieve herd immunity after 80 percent of its adult population had been inoculated.
With that, soon, we can expect all supermarkets and eateries in Sarawak to allow entry only to those who have been fully vaccinated.
Other states, including Sabah, and countries like the United Arab Emirates are also implementing these restrictions.
With the federal and state governments urging all eligible Malaysians and foreign workers to get their jabs, there is no reason for anyone not to be vaccinated yet. Unless of course, they are still waiting for their vaccination appointments, like my niece in Johor.
Just before he resigned as prime minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin revealed — on August 12 — that the government would announce the action to be taken against anti-vaccine groups soon.
The move, he explained, was to ensure Malaysia could achieve herd immunity.
Muhyiddin then said that the government would conduct some research about the anti-vaccine group.
“We need to know the background, whether most of them are so sick that they are afraid to take the vaccine or they don’t want to take the vaccine because they don’t believe in it.
“So, when we have analysed … if the percentage is very small, it is not worrying but if it is big, we have to find a way, whether to make it mandatory under the existing legal provisions. It will be decided by the government within this month or next month,” he said.
Now that Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has taken over as the ninth prime minister, we expect him to update us on the government action to be taken against anti-vaccine groups and set the direction for the country, especially in the fight against Covid-19. We look forward to the day when Malaysia will be free from Covid-19 and life can return to normal.