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Brunei tightens control measures amid new surge of COVID-19 cases

The government has banned mass gatherings, ordered all non-essential to work-from-home and limited the number of people leaving home to two for daily necessities

Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Isham at the COVID-19 press conference. Photo: RTB

The government has banned mass gatherings, ordered all non-essential employees to work-from-home and limited the number of people leaving home to two for daily necessities.

The second round of control measures – the strictest the government has mandated under the pandemic – come after Brunei recorded an all-time high of 42 new COVID-19 cases, 38 which are local transmissions. The measures are effective immediately (August 9 @ 4pm) until August 21.

The Minister of Health YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Isham Haji Jaafar announced the measures at the COVID-19 press conference yesterday, where he outlined the specific requirements and exemptions.

On leaving your residence:

Leaving home is not allowed without significant reason. Two people from a family or residence are allowed to leave home to buy necessities. This directive will be enforced, but not with fines at present.

On working from home:

All staff in public and private sector required to work from home, with the following essential sectors exempted:

  • Frontliners: including those working in health, security, hospitality and transport
  • Daily necessities: food and other retail business
  • Utilities: electricity, water, telecommunications
  • Oil and gas: upstream and downstream
  • Construction
  • Agrifood and forestry
  • Border control posts

On mass gatherings:

  • No mass gatherings allowed, except for:
  • Funerals (non COVID-19), where up to 15 people are allowed
  • Marriage solemnization or nikah, where up to five people are allowed
  • Visiting parents who live separately from family: only two family members are allowed to visit at a time
  • Exercising in pairs outdoors from the same household.

On wearing face masks:

Whenever leaving the house, failing to do so being liable to a $100 fine. The exceptions are:

  • Being in a closed environment with those you live with, such as traveling in a car
  • Exercising outdoors individually without social contact

Expanding on the work-from-home arrangement, Second Minister of Finance and Economy and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah acknowledged that it is difficult to precisely define what is considered essential outside the sectors identified.

He said organizations should examine which aspect of operations can be done from home, and potentially explore additional arrangements include dividing employees into different locations or teams as a continuity measure so that if one group is affected, the other team can continue to operate.

“We will monitor this (work-from-home arrangement) to make sure that people don’t misuse (or) abuse it. As the Minister of Health mentioned we try to limit the number of people going out,” he added.