Religious organisations encouraged to conduct activities remotely to minimise Covid-19 risk: MCCY

SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said on Wednesday (May 5) that it strongly encouraged religious organisations (ROs) to support the needs of their communities through remote means as far as possible, in view of tightened national measures to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

The new restrictions, announced by the multi-ministry task force on Tuesday, will run from May 8 to 30 and come in the wake of growing infection numbers and a Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster.

Reducing the size of social gatherings from eight to five people will also be applicable to ROs and all their activities, along with other enhanced measures. MCCY noted that the ROs must acknowledge – and if they have yet to, submit safe management plans for – these new conditions before starting any activities.

For example, congregational and worship services can hold up to 100 people without pre-event testing – down from 250 previously. Even with pre-event testing, gatherings will be capped at 250.

Vaccinated individuals will be exempt from pre-event testing.

Worshippers will no longer be allowed to sing. They have to be segregated into zones holding up to 50 people each and as per national requirements, keep to groups of up to five – down from eight.

MCCY said it also strongly encouraged minimising live performance elements, such as suspending singing and the playing of wind instruments.

Other safe management measures that ROs must continue to observe include wedding solemnisations of up to 250 attendees only. Pre-event testing is a must for those with more than 50 – down from 100 previously.

Similarly, MCCY advised that live instrumental music at wedding solemnisations be either suspended or shortened in duration.

For funerals, wakes and related rites, the the number of those attending a burial or cremation will be reduced from 50 to 30.

Other activities such as pastoral services and religious classes cannot have more than 50 participants. But MCCY also urged ROs to conduct these via remote means or to defer them altogether until the pandemic situation improves.

As with all offices across Singapore, only 50 per cent of employees at ROs may return to their workplace, although MCCY similarly advised religious organisations to support working from home as much as possible.

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From May 17, ROs must also prepare to accept mandatory SafeEntry check-ins to their premises via the TraceTogether app or token only.

By June 15, those conducting congregational and worship services for 100 persons or fewer will also have to deploy the SafeEntry Gateway box at their main entrances.

MCCY said it would suspend an RO’s activities if there are gaps in safe management plans.

Should there be any confirmed Covid-19 cases linked to a place of worship, the premises may also be closed for a period of time.

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