Brunei will be entering the Early Endemic Phase for one month from 15 December until 14 January 2022, announced Second Minister of Finance and Economy and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew in a press conference also revealed the measures and guidelines that need to adhere during the period, set by the Steering Committee for COVID-19.
The minister also said that the stay-at-home movement restriction from 10pm until 4am implemented during the current “Operasi Peralihan” will be extended until Friday, 14 January 2022.
“All individuals are allowed to enter government and private premises, or attend events, regardless of their vaccination status. This is the general requirement for entry into any premises,” said YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin.
However, unvaccinated individuals are required to undergo Antigen Rapid Test (ART) which the validity period of the test result is two days.
Meanwhile, children under 18 years old who have not received or completed their vaccinations are allowed to enter premises without the need for ART testing, if they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.
Capacity increased to 75 per cent
YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin further said that venue capacity for mass and private gatherings is limited to 75 per cent of the premise capacity or not more than 300 persons, or whichever is lesser.
“Buffet service during functions and at restaurants is not permitted, except for dome serving, although the distribution of take-home packaged meals is encouraged,” he said.
Government offices and service counters, he added, are also opened at 75 per cent while maintaining their respective Business Continuity Plans (BCP) which capacity limits include its personnel and public.
The capacity limit is also applicable for museums, galleries, libraries, and activity centres for senior citizens with operating hours are from 8am to 2pm.
Moreover, all indoor and outdoor sports, fitness, and recreational facilities/activities, are also allowed to operate at 75 per cent of premise capacity or not more than 300 persons (whichever is the lesser number).
Non-contact sports are permitted, and contact sports are allowed for skills training only; sporting matches are not permitted and Face masks should be worn except when engaging in high-intensity activity.
The limit also includes business premises including restaurants, cafés, food courts, cinemas, arcades, indoor playgrounds, beauty establishments (such as hair salons and barbershops), markets and tamu, sports facilities and music schools.
The minister also announced that school sessions under the purview of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Religious Affairs will commence on Monday, 3 January 2022.
Whereas international schools will resume operations according to their respective school term calendars.
“Only fully vaccinated students will be allowed to return to their school physically and the subsequent reopening of schools will be implemented in stages, in accordance with the provided guidelines,” said the minister.
YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin further announced the resumption of outbound and inbound travel for non-essential travel via air transportation will commence on Saturday, 1 January 2022.
“For exit-country travel: only citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam who have completed two vaccine doses between 14 days to six months prior to the date of travel, or those who have received a booster dose beforehand, are permitted for outbound travel without exit-country approval from the Prime Minister’s Office,” said the minister.
He added: “Currently, the booster dose vaccination programme gives priority to frontliners, and individuals aged 50 and above, as well as those at high risk, and it will be extended to members of the public who are eligible to receive the booster, starting Friday, 17 December 2021, InsyaAllah.”
Citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam who have not received their vaccination for health reasons for essential travel out of the country can be considered, by applying for exit travel approval from the Prime Minister’s Office beforehand.
Meanwhile, for entry travel into Brunei, only foreign nationals who have received two doses of vaccine, recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO), are permitted to enter the country.
However, any individual who has received two doses of a vaccine that is not recognised by the WHO can be considered for entry into Brunei Darussalam for essential travel but are required to obey health requirements as per unvaccinated individuals, such as swab tests and to undergo quarantine.
The minister also announced that Brunei will begin the Travel Green List during the Early Endemic Phase on a trial basis, initially for four countries, namely Australia, China, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
“…in which foreign nationals from the above-mentioned countries will be allowed to enter Brunei for non-essential travel. However, these travellers will be required to undergo ART testing on the third day after arriving in the country, at designated ART centres,” he added.
For the sultanate to enter the next phases, YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin said that it is subjected to monitoring epidemiological indicators including the number of critical cases; vaccination rates; and bed occupancy rates at isolation centres.
“The Steering Committee for COVID-19 will prepare to move into the subsequent phase, whereby control measures will continue to be scaled down to enable us to run our daily lives as we did previously by adapting to the new normal. The implementation of specific guidelines for the next stage will be announced later,” concluded the minister.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN