Malaysians mark Eid al-Fitr as virus cases drop

Muslims perform Eid al-Fitr prayers at the National Mosque in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Monday, May 2, 2022. XINHUA PHOTO

KUALA LUMPUR: Muslims in Malaysia marked a more joyous Eid al-Fitr holiday on Monday as the Covid-19 crisis in the Southeast Asian country seems to continue to wane.

After enduring lockdowns and travel restrictions, Malaysians were filling the streets, malls and markets in the capital Kuala Lumpur, celebrating the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and the start of Eid al-Fitr, while others finally made the traditional “Balik Kampung,” or people in the cities or urban areas returning to their hometowns and celebrate there.

Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said last week hosting open houses and home visits would be allowed again this year, as were physical greetings, which had been discouraged to minimize physical contact and avoid contracting the coronavirus.

Other regulations, such as registering on the country’s Covid-19 management app and wearing face masks outdoors, have also been eased.

Arif Naquiddin, 34, who lives on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, told the Xinhua News Agency he was finally able to celebrate the holiday with his extended family after two years of pandemic-imposed disruptions and restrictions.

“It is wonderful that we are finally able to celebrate without the restrictions we had before and we finally can host visitors. The mood has improved and the joy has returned,” Naquiddin said.

“Of course, we are still cautious but at least we can have a real celebration this year,” he added. “I hope we will never return to the days of the lockdown again.”

In a recent televised speech, Malaysia’s Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah called on his countrymen to observe good health practices during the celebration as part of continued efforts to break Covid-19 infection chains.

“We have gone through many obstacles and challenges in our nation’s fight to break free from the shackles of Covid-19. Going forward, my subjects must carry on with this momentum by continuing to practice good health care and comply with the government’s advice and recommendations,” the ruler said.

In a separate address, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Malaysians had proven their strength in facing the challenges posed by the pandemic over the past two years and could now again relish festivities.

He also reminded the public to maintain self-discipline as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr, even though many restrictions have been eased.