Catholic and Methodist churches will not reopen for private worship when circuit breaker eases on June 2

Closure notice in front of The Church of St Alphonsus, on May 13, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Catholic and Methodist churches will not reopen for private worship when Singapore exits its "circuit breaker" period on Tuesday (June 2).

In a letter to parishioners on Wednesday (May 27), Archbishop William Goh said that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese has studied the restrictions and requirements set by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), but Catholic churches will remain closed for private worship to "err on the side of caution out of pastoral responsibility."

The MCCY announced earlier this month that religious organisations must undertake a number of measures before they can reopen for private worship when Singapore exits its circuit breaker and moves into Phase 1- which begins on June 2.

Wedding ceremonies and funeral services can take place at Catholic churches, but with fewer than 10 people in attendance.

"Because of the risks of infection, Phase 1 carries many restrictions and requirements to all religious organisations on how such private worship is to be conducted. As we are not allowed to engage the help of volunteers, it will be very difficult to fully comply with the strict conditions set by MCCY for Phase 1," said Archbishop Goh.

"In Phase 2, the Archdiocese looks forward to opening our churches for private prayer and adoration, especially when some of the requirements are relaxed - for example, when volunteer parishioners are allowed to assist in implementing safety measures," he added.

Meanwhile, parishes have established online platforms to reach out to church members.

Ahead of a full reopening, more public health safeguards, as well as a digital attendance registration system, will be put in place at Catholic churches.

The Methodist Church in Singapore also told The Straits Times that its churches would remain closed for now, as it continues to closely follow the guidelines issued by MCCY and comply with all regulations stipulated for religious organisations.

"All our worship services will continue to be held online. Should any church member need urgent pastoral care, we will continue to provide it via phone call or video chat as church offices remain closed," said Dr Anthony Goh, chairman of the council on communications at the Methodist Church in Singapore.

Like the Catholic church, solemnisation ceremonies can also be conducted at Methodist churches, but with not more than 10 people in attendance.

Meanwhile, mosques will reopen progressively from June 2. This will start with the provision of limited spaces for private prayer, though congregational and Friday prayers remain suspended until further notice.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said on Wednesday (May 27) that it would implement "maximum precautionary measures" to reduce the possibility of a second wave of community infections.

To this end, from June 2 to 7, mosques will reopen between 1pm and 6pm. Most mosques will allow individual worship for five daily prayers from June 8. Common spaces at mosques will also be regularly disinfected, and entry will require physical checks, temperature taking and the SafeEntry digital check-in system.

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