BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Fully vaccinated individuals will not be allowed to attend more than two private social gatherings a week when Brunei reopens its economy from November 19.

In the government’s new COVID-19 transition phase guidelines released Friday, fully jabbed residents can host up to 30 guests inside their homes and a maximum of 200 people in the outdoor area of their houses for social gatherings.

Guests must also be fully vaccinated, while only unvaccinated children who live in the residence are allowed to attend the gatherings.

The government earlier this week announced that Brunei will lift a slew of COVID-19 restrictions, including allowing private gatherings as part of its pandemic exit plan’s transition phase.

Speaking at the COVID press briefing on Friday, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said hosts can only serve food packed in containers at private events.

The guidelines further state that buffets are banned and packed food and drinks are not recommended to be consumed at the venue.

Those who wish to host a private event were also advised to register for BruHealth QR codes to facilitate contact tracing.

Individuals should also conduct antigen rapid tests (ART) before attending private gatherings.

A healthcare worker guides a woman on how to use the COVID-19 antigen rapid test at SHHB National Stadium on Nov 4, 2021. Photo: Rasidah Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Workers in retail and food services sectors suggested to take antigen tests twice a week

As part of the antigen test guidelines, the government said “high-risk workers” such as retail staff and employees in the food services, construction and manufacturing industries should conduct antigen tests “more frequently”, with a suggested period of twice a week.

For civil servants, they will undergo rostered routine testing using ART as part of the “return to office strategy”.

“The frequency of [testing] will depend on the risk profile of the occupation – frontliners and those at higher risk will have rostered routine testing at greater frequency than back-office employees,” the guidelines stated.

The health minister previously said fully vaccinated employees returning to workplaces in the public and private sectors would be required to perform antigen tests every two weeks during the transition phase.

Individuals who have yet to complete their COVID-19 vaccination regimen cannot enter public venues in the transition phase, which starts when 70 percent of Brunei residents are fully vaccinated.

To date, 87.5 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose while 67.9 percent is fully jabbed.

Other general health protocols during the transition phase include wearing of face masks for all individuals in public places, using BruHealth mobile app and keeping a distance of at least 1.5 metres from others.

New cases stay below 100 for 7 days in a row

Brunei recorded its seventh consecutive day of new COVID-19 cases staying under 100 after the health ministry detected 63 additional infections on Friday.

Another two new clusters were linked to the migrant worker dormitories of construction companies Nur Naziba and M.Rahman.

There are 702 active cases, including five in critical condition and another three require close observation.

The cumulative confirmed COVID infections reached 14,121.