Coronavirus: No packed Sunday activities, just stay home and play

Ms Elizabeth Chang (at right), 42, and her husband Kelvin Koh, 45, at their home yesterday with their children - (from left) Micah (in background), six; Noah, nine; Kyra, 14; Nessya, 11; and Mikaela, four - and their maid Maliana (centre, background)
Ms Elizabeth Chang (at right), 42, and her husband Kelvin Koh, 45, at their home yesterday with their children - (from left) Micah (in background), six; Noah, nine; Kyra, 14; Nessya, 11; and Mikaela, four - and their maid Maliana (centre, background), 27. Amid fears over the coronavirus, which has been escalating in severity over the past few weeks, the family now mostly stay put at their HDB executive maisonette in Bukit Timah on the weekends.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Sunday mornings are usually packed with activities for Ms Elizabeth Chang, 42, and her family of seven.

Three of her five children, aged four to 14, attend catechism classes at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Thomson. After that, she joins them for mass with the other children, followed by brunch at one of their favourite haunts in Thomson or Toa Payoh with Ms Chang's extended family.

Her husband, who co-owns a wedding photography business with her, usually works on Sundays.

But amid fears over the coronavirus, which has been escalating in severity over the past few weeks, the family now mostly stay put at their HDB executive maisonette in Bukit Timah on the weekends.

Since the middle of last month, mass and catechism classes have been cancelled. Ms Chang also stopped sending her sons, aged six and nine, for art classes at a community centre this month.

"I felt that it was a bit dangerous for them to go for classes because you don't know who may have contracted the virus. It's also harder to get the younger kids to remember to stop touching surfaces, or their faces," she said. The family watch a livestream of Sunday mass at home instead.

With stricter safe distancing measures that were introduced last Tuesday, all tuition and enrichment classes have been suspended. Yesterday was the first Sunday that Ms Chang's 11-year-old daughter Nessya stopped going for her private wushu training classes.

"My kids fight a lot more now that they are all home together. But because there are five of them, they are also able to play on their own and talk to each other if they are bored, even if my husband and I are busy, " said Ms Chang.

Yesterday, they played games like Jenga together, had home-cooked meals for lunch and dinner, and caught up on their schoolwork at home.

 
 
 

If they get restless, the children would play on their kick scooters outside the flat, or go for a jog around the block - though playgrounds are out of bounds because of the danger of contracting the virus from touching surfaces.

"We definitely hope that things can get back to normal soon," said Ms Chang. "But we've been coping well for now, and I think it's a good thing to introduce stricter guidelines for social distancing because there are a lot of people who don't feel that the situation is serious - you still see a lot of people outside."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2020, with the headline 'No packed Sunday activities, just stay home and play'. Print Edition | Subscribe