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Travel restrictions dampen March holiday spirits

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Families forced to cancel plans or cut short trips over Stay-Home Notices

It may be the March school holidays, but it has not been a relaxing break for some families.

With the Government issuing travel advisories and implementing further travel restrictions amid the coronavirus situation, on top of Malaysia announcing its lockdown until March 31, plans have been disrupted and holiday spirits dampened.

Mr Wilson Chua, 42, who works in a semiconductor company, on Sunday cancelled his Bali trip with his daughters aged 11 and nine as he was worried about the Covid-19 spikes.

He then decided to go to Genting, Malaysia, and was supposed to stay at Maxims Hotel under Resorts World Genting from Tuesday to today.

But with a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) served to Singaporeans returning from Asean countries kicking in on Monday night, Malaysia's sudden lockdown and the well-being of his family weighing on his mind, Mr Chua pulled the plug again on his plans on Tuesday.

Right after that, Resorts World Genting said it was temporarily suspending hotel operations from Tuesday and required hotel guests to check out by noon that day.

The SHN has since been expanded again. From 11.59pm today, all travellers entering Singapore will be issued an SHN.

Mr Chua, who spent $2,600 and has managed to get back $1,200 so far, told The New Paper: "I was disappointed but also relieved... The situation has gone beyond my control and it is better to be safe."

Other families were forced to abruptly cut short their trips.

When Mr Amir Mohamed, 46, and his family drove to Malacca on Sunday, their vacation was interrupted by a flood of messages to his mobile phone informing him of the news that travellers who did not return by Monday, 11.59pm would have to serve the SHN.

LOST

He returned to Singapore a day earlier, on Monday evening, before the cut-off deadline. The senior manager lost around $300 on accommodation.

Ms Tanty Rosli, her husband, two children aged 12 and five and her parents were riding in a van in Bali on Sunday on an eight-day vacation when they heard the news of the SHN.

The family immediately got out of the vehicle, sat at the side of the road and began scrambling to look for flights home.

The 41-year-old, who works in strategic communications, told TNP: "There was no time to think. It was on the spot."

Ms Tanty eventually secured a Scoot flight and the group returned on Monday.She got back $1,500 from the Bali villa they booked, which cost them $2,000, but they forfeited $800 in air tickets.

Other families were less fortunate. A 43-year-old food retail manager, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Ho, and seven family members returned to Singapore on Tuesday afternoon from their Bali trip.

Upon landing at Changi Airport, they were issued the SHN. When they got home, Mrs Ho was told by her eight-year-old son's school that he would have to do e-learning.

"(The SHN announcement) caused some stress and anxiety, and it was not possible to rearrange for another flight in the time given. However, we had planned this vacation since 2019 and still enjoyed it."

ADDITIONAL REPORTING: NUR HIDAYA JAMAL

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