Coronavirus: Government columbaria to reopen in phase 2 after more than two months' closure

Government-managed columbaria were closed during the circuit breaker period.
Government-managed columbaria were closed during the circuit breaker period.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Government-managed columbaria in Choa Chu Kang, Mandai and Yishun will be open to the public again from Friday (June 19) after more than two months of closure due to the coronavirus.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Tuesday that Choa Chu Kang Cemetery will also be open for visiting in phase two of Singapore's reopening, starting on Friday.

Safety stipulations like the wearing of masks remain in place. Families have been advised to limit their group size to not more than five people, while seniors should stay home, as they are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said in a Facebook post on Tuesday on the reopening of columbaria: "One of the socio-religious activities that we have missed is visiting the graves of our departed loved ones. This is important for all our communities."

The closure of columbaria during the circuit breaker period affected the annual Qing Ming festival, a traditional Chinese festival when people pay their respects to their ancestors.

The rituals of tomb-sweeping and burning of joss sticks and paper, slated to peak between March 21 and April 19 this year, were largely disrupted.

Temples like Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery had turned online in response, introducing surrogate services for devotees to order ancestral offerings remotely and book a mass chanting conducted by monks.

For cremations, burial services and funeral wakes during phase two, 20 people at any one time can now be present, up from the previous limit of 10 during the circuit breaker.

The NEA warned people about possible uneven patches of grass at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery, as grass-cutting there was affected by the circuit breaker rules.

 
 
 

It has increased grass-cutting since June 2, but said not all burial plots will have had their grass cut by Friday, and urged visitors to be mindful of their surroundings and to wear covered footwear.