Coronavirus pandemic

Government-run columbariums reopen today

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

Government-managed columbariums in Choa Chu Kang, Mandai and Yishun will be open to the public again from today after more than two months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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

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 co-lumbariums: "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 columbariums 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 such as Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery went 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 can now be present at any one time, 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 that not all burial plots will have had their grass cut by today, and urged visitors to be mindful of their surroundings and to wear covered footwear.

IMPORTANT TO COMMUNITIES

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.

MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, in a Facebook post on the reopening of columbariums.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2020, with the headline 'Government-run columbariums reopen today'. Subscribe