Staying Safe This Raya: 10 Health & Travel Tips for Malaysian Families

The Hari Raya Aidilfitri is upon us once again and with travel restrictions lifted, the celebrations this year will surely be in full force. Here are 10 health and travel tips for Malaysian families this hari raya.

by Raihan Rahman

Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Eid-Al-Fitr

Hari Raya Aidilfitri marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. After an entire month of fasting from dawn to sunset every day, Muslims around the world celebrate the end of the fasting month on the first of Syawal. This year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri falls on the 2nd and 3rd of May.

For the past 2 years, Malaysian Muslims have not been able to balik kampung for Raya due to movement restrictions and border closure but since Malaysia has ended these restrictions in 2021, celebrations are expected to be in full force this year.

As families all over Malaysia prepare to reunite with their loved ones, it is important that we make this Hari Raya safe for all of us. Here are 10 health and travel tips for families celebrating the Raya holidays this year:

Get your booster shots and keep up to date with other vaccinations

Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin announced that senior citizens over the age of 60 can now get their 2nd booster shots for COVID-19 if they received their first booster shot between 4-and 6 months ago. Before travelling back home for Raya, make sure your senior loved ones have received their booster shots for so much needed protection. Similarly, make sure children under the age of 18 are up to date on all their routine vaccines, e.g. Influenza, Chickenpox and Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR).

Get tested before you balik kampung

One of the simplest ways to ensure your family stays safe during this time is by testing before you leave home for Hari Raya celebrations. Perform a COVID-19 self-test for you and your family before travelling back this Hari Raya. If you are planning to visit those considered high-risk or living with comorbidities, consider getting a professional RTK or PCR test.

Follow PLUS’ travel guideline

This year, the PLUS highway is expecting a 25% increase in vehicles on the North-South Expressway with over 2 million vehicles on the road. As a means to reduce congestion, PLUS has released a Travel Time Advisory for those travelling during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri season.

Between April 29th to May 2nd, those travelling from Klang Valley to Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Johor are advised to travel before 10 am. For the journey back between May 5th to May 9th, travellers are advised to be on the road before 9 am when returning to Klang Valley from Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Johor and other states.

Keep sanitisers while travelling and avoid carpooling

Be sure to stock up on sanitising essentials before travelling as this will help to reduce the time spent at R&Rs and even avoid unnecessary stops in your journey. Keep sanitisers and wipes handy for road trip snacking and/or any spilling accidents. Limit the passengers in your car to only family members or friends that you are currently living with. This helps to reduce your risk of contracting the virus while you balik kampung.

Continue to practice social distancing

Although it may be difficult to resist the holiday hugs this Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that you keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others. Avoid kisses, hugs and handshakes with people you don’t live with. If this is unavoidable, be sure to keep a hand sanitiser on your person at all times.

Wash your hands regularly with soap after bersalam-salaman

One of the most important traditions of Hari Raya Aidilfitri is asking for forgiveness from your elders – which involves kissing the back of the hand. Many Malaysian Muslims have waited years to continue this tradition but as we carry on to live with the virus, this tradition comes with a much bigger risk. Once we conclude our bersalam-salaman, don’t forget to wash your hands with soap and water immediately. While we are excited to receive our green packets this year, we also have the duty to keep all our loved ones safe.

Wear a mask when in enclosed spaces and cover your cough and sneezes

During the festivities, we may find ourselves in enclosed and even crowded spaces. While social distancing may not be possible in these situations, you can reduce your risk and the risk of others contracting the virus by wearing a properly fitted mask at all times. If at any time you take off your mask to enjoy the Raya treats, be sure to cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow. Here are some quick reminders:

  • Be sure to wash your hands before and after you touch your mask
  • Make sure your mask covers your mouth, nose and chin completely
  • Do not leave your mask lying around and store it in a clean bag or mask holder

Beraya outdoors or in well-ventilated areas

When possible, encourage your family and relatives to step outside when socialising. If the Malaysian weather is too hot for an outdoor Raya, open windows and doors on the opposite side of the house to create better ventilation.

Pro tip: Use a standing fan to push indoor air outside and prevent the spread of germs and viruses.

Designate one person to handle food at a time

Many of us are looking forward to enjoying the many Raya treats this year but having multiple people touch the same serving utensils may increase the transmission of germs and viruses. One simple approach to avoid this is to designate one person to plate the food for others while wearing a mask and keeping a distance. This also helps to keep the space around the food area from becoming overcrowded.

Stay home if you feel unwell

If you’ve managed to balik kampung and meet up with your relatives but start to feel unwell during your trip, do stay home and avoid socialising with others. If you experience a sore throat, fever or fatigue, isolate yourself and perform a self-test 2 days after your symptoms. Advise others who have been in close contact with you to do the same. If you experience shortness of breath, visit the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.

Keeping Our Kampung COVID-Free

This Hari Raya Aidilfitri, it is all of our responsibilities to keep our loved ones COVID-19 free. Although the COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed, Malaysians must continue to do their part this holiday season by following the SOPs and keeping others safe.

Homage Malaysia wishes you a Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.


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References

Malaysia – traveler view (no date) Cdc.gov. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/malaysia (Accessed: April 27, 2022).

Plus saran pelanggan lebuh Raya patuhi tta untuk kurangkan kesesakan atau jangkaan Alami tempoh perjalanan lebih panjang (2022) Com.my. Available at: https://www.plus.com.my/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=971:plus-saran-pelanggan-lebuh-raya-patuhi-tta-untuk-kurangkan-kesesakan-atau-jangkaan-alami-tempoh-perjalanan-lebih-panjang&catid=16:press-releases&lang=en&Itemid=154 (Accessed: April 27, 2022).

Six ways to protect yourself and those around you during the holiday season (2021) Who.int. Available at: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/news-room/feature-stories/item/six-ways-to-protect-yourself-and-those-around-you-during-the-holiday-season (Accessed: April 27, 2022).

Ying, T. P. (no date) Com.my. Available at: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2022/04/791055/second-booster-shot-high-risk-senior-citizens-and-adults-wanting-travel (Accessed: April 27, 2022).

About the Writer
Raihan Rahman
Raihan loves psychological thriller books and horror movies but sleeps with a night light, lest the monsters get her.
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