SINGAPORE - Ahead of the Qing Ming or Chinese tomb-sweeping festival in April, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has put up an advisory reminding those who observe the occasion to be socially responsible in view of the coronavirus situation.
In the advisory on Wednesday (March 11), it said that those who feel unwell or are sick should stay at home or see a doctor and avoid visiting during the Qing Ming peak periods between March 21 and April 19.
The agency added that crowds are expected at the cemetery and columbarium in Choa Chu Kang as well as the government columbaria in Mandai and Yishun.
It reminded the public to keep themselves and others around them safe by observing good hygiene habits, such as binning their litter and keeping shared spaces clean.
NEA added that those who burn joss paper should do so in a considerate manner and keep the environment clean.
The public should also minimise flying ash to reduce fire hazards, as well as to burn it in small quantities to minimise smoke. Town councils will provide bins and containers for residents in housing estates for this purpose.
The agency also reminded people to remember not to leave any food offerings or litter behind, as these could lead to mosquito breeding or rat infestation.
As large crowds are expected at the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery and the government columbaria, NEA advises visitors who wish to avoid crowds and congestion to avoid visiting in the morning of peak days such as weekends, public holidays and on April 4, the day of the festival. The public are also advised to take public transport or the shuttle buses provided during the peak periods.
To facilitate visits to the cemetery and columbarium in Choa Chu Kang, a new shuttle bus service will be provided at a fee of $1 per trip between the agency's claims and registration office at Christian Cemetery Path 2 and Choa Chu Kang Columbarium at 15-minute intervals.
Additionally, as there are ongoing construction works for the development of a new crematorium complex, some roads and open-air carparks near Mandai Columbarium Blocks B and C will be temporarily closed.
A shuttle bus service, which charges a fee of $1.40 per trip, will be deployed between Khatib MRT Station at the Exit A pick-up point and the rear entrance of Mandai Columbarium in Mandai Avenue.
It will ply the route every 15 minutes from 7am to 5pm on March 21, 22, 28 and 29, and April 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19.
At the same time, NEA advised the public to exercise discretion while engaging grave maintenance services that are not regulated by NEA.
"Next-of-kin who have not made prior private arrangements for such services are advised not to pay anyone who claims to have maintained the graves of their loved ones," said the authority.
NEA also warned freelance gardeners and contractors not to engage in any illegal activities such as touting, extortion, harassment or cheating or risk facing penalties.
Those on the end of such activities are advised to call the police, contact the Cemetery Office at 6793-7428 during office hours, or call NEA on 6225-5632.
NEA also advised the public to wear protective footwear and watch out for portholes, cracks and uneven or rough surfaces when walking within the cemetery compound.