Up to 250 worshippers to be allowed at some churches and mosques

A photo taken on June 26, 2020, showing people taking part in Friday prayers at Al-Istighfar Mosque. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More people will be able to attend congregational and other worship services, as some religious organisations have increased their capacity limit to 250 people.

At least four churches The Straits Times contacted are welcoming between 150 and 250 worshippers, up from the current limit of 100.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) also said that five local mosques will allow 250 worshippers each for every Friday prayer session from this week.

This means that each mosque can serve 750 worshippers across three sessions every Friday - at 12.50pm, 1.50pm and 2.50pm.

All of these religious organisations are part of a pilot spearheaded by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) aimed at gradually resuming religious activities with safe management measures in place.

The pilot programme, which opened for application to religious organisations on Oct 3, requires those on board to have steadily conducted worship services for 100 persons.

In line with MCCY's requirements, people allowed at worship services must abide by zoning requirements. Each zone can have up to 50 people.

The Church of the Holy Spirit in Thomson said that since Nov 21, up to 250 worshippers were allowed for its five worship sessions held every weekend.

Heart of God Church in Eunos, which has eight weekend services, has also held services with the new limit of 250 people since Nov 14.

The five mosques participating are Al-Islah in Punggol, Al-Istighfar in Pasir Ris, Darul Ghufran in Tampines, Assyafaah in Admiralty and Al-Khair in Teck Whye.

"The five mosques were chosen based on their ability and readiness to comply with all requirements of the safe management measures as prescribed for places of worship," a Muis spokesman said in response to ST queries.

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli welcomed the move but reminded the Muslim community that the fight against Covid-19 is not over.

"I urge the community to use either the TraceTogether token or application when visiting our mosques," he said on Facebook on Monday.

"In the past, before the introduction of TraceTogether, we had to close all mosques when positive Covid-19 congregants visited the mosques."

Those who have been unable to obtain a prayer slot since Nov 20 can now register for one via the MuslimSg app or this website.

Same-day booking for any prayer slots that remain will also be available every Friday from 10am to 2pm.

From Sunday (Dec 6), two other churches, Toa Payoh Methodist Church and Amazing Grace Presbyterian Church began welcoming 200 and 150 participants respectively for each service.

ST understands that the number of people allowed for each worship session depends partly on the size of the place of worship.

In September, the MCCY said in a statement that for places of worship with structured worship services, there must be separate entrances and exits or staggered entry and exit times for each zone.

This is to avoid interaction between worshippers across zones.

The Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery said that from Dec 21, it will be part of the MCCY pilot although it is currently limited to having 100 devotees at any point in time.

Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road is also participating in the MCCY pilot while Taoist Federation chairman Tan Thiam Lye said that it is "interested" in applying for approval.

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