SINGAPORE — Toasting at public events like wedding dinners will not be allowed, nor will the “emphatic uttering of auspicious sayings” during the traditional Chinese ritual known as lo-hei, under additional regulations introduced by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The amendments by the MOH to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) were laid out in the government e-gazette on Monday (25 January). The Control Order is part of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020.
For example, “a toast in acclamation to the bride and groom at a wedding reception or wedding dinner” is not allowed, nor is a “raucous toast for the guest-of-honour on an event marking the opening a department store”.
Neither is “an ovation offered and accepted with drinks during a meeting to congratulate the new chief executive on his or her receiving an enterprise award”.
Furthermore, “any verbal exhortation of goodwill or honour or about any other matter (whether or not auspicious or propitious) accompanied by a ritual (like toasting) in which a drink or any food is offered, taken or handled” is forbidden.
The new restrictions were broadly laid out by the Multi-ministry Task Force (MTF) last Friday, as part of efforts to avoid a repeat of the spike in COVID-19 cases following the same holiday period last year.
There will be a cap of eight distinct visitors per household per day taking effect from 26 January, while individuals should limit themselves to visiting at most two other households a day, as much as possible.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the MTF, also reiterated that face masks must be worn during lohei – tossing of a raw fish salad called yusheng – while in restaurants and shouting of auspicious phrases, be it by patrons or staff members, is discouraged.
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