Coronavirus: Seventh month prayers and post-funeral rites allowed

Seventh lunar month prayers and post-funeral religious rites will be allowed in places of worship and some external venues such as Housing Board common areas.
Seventh lunar month prayers and post-funeral religious rites will be allowed in places of worship and some external venues such as Housing Board common areas.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

They must be conducted by religious bodies with good record of Covid-19 safety measures

As Singapore enters a new normal with the gradual easing of various restrictions, large gatherings and festivities, such as National Day community concerts and seventh lunar month events, will by and large continue to remain virtual, the Health Ministry (MOH) said yesterday.

But there will be exceptions.

The ministry said seventh lunar month prayers and post-funeral religious rites, conducted by religious organisations with a good track record of implementing safe management measures, will be allowed in places of worship and some external venues such as Housing Board common areas.

Details on how many people will be allowed to attend are expected to be released soon.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said at a virtual press conference earlier yesterday that many Singaporeans have expressed their eagerness to resume regular activities.

Hence, curbs were eased recently on weddings, wakes and funerals.

"We recognise that these are key milestones in life that Singaporeans hope to commemorate, and that memories of these events will stay precious long after the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

"We will continue to assess the situation and allow the gradual resumption of other events, including wedding receptions and some religious rites," he said.

But most other events should remain virtual for the time being, he added.

The lunch-time crowd in Bugis Street on Tuesday. More travellers are expected as Singapore gradually reopens its borders. The bustle near a bicycle rental shop in East Coast Park last Friday. Covid-19 task force co-chair Lawrence Wong said Singapore
The bustle near a bicycle rental shop in East Coast Park on July 31, 2020. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

"This does not mean that we can no longer celebrate these occasions, but that we will need to find new ways to do so," he said.

Citing this year's National Day celebrations, the minister said: "Singaporeans are a resourceful people, and many have found new and creative ways to commemorate our nation's independence while adhering to the safe management measures.

 
 
 

"With a right mindset and attitude, we can adapt and make the best of the situation, even if we need to continue with safe distancing measures."

The authorities have taken active steps to move Singapore into a "new normal" within the pandemic environment.

MOH's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said the costs of polymerase chain reaction tests for Covid-19 will decrease in the future as protocols get optimised and tests become more available, benefiting all visitors and travellers who will require testing when they enter or leave Singapore.

More travellers are expected as Singapore gradually reopens its borders, with testing being a necessary step to ensure they do not bring the coronavirus infection with them.

Currently, the cost is around $200 per test.

But even as Singapore moves towards the new normal, Covid-19 task force co-chair Lawrence Wong said the country is unlikely to ever be completely free of the virus.

The lunch-time crowd in Bugis Street on Tuesday. More travellers are expected as Singapore gradually reopens its borders. The bustle near a bicycle rental shop in East Coast Park last Friday. Covid-19 task force co-chair Lawrence Wong said Singapore
The lunch-time crowd in Bugis Street on Aug 4, 2020. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Despite Singapore's recent streak of low community cases, it must be wary of a resurgence in infections.

He said: "We still think today that there is some underlying rate of infection. It's very, very low, but it is there.

 

"And it's quite likely that this was the case in many other countries where you saw a resurgence of cases... places where you saw very low case counts on a daily basis for many, many days or even weeks... and then suddenly things spike up."

The key is to learn how to live with the virus, to find new safe ways for people to carry on with their lives.

"As long as we are able to put in place the necessary measures, as long as Singaporeans and residents of Singapore comply with the safe distancing measures, we think we can progressively resume more activities while keeping the infection under control."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2020, with the headline 'Seventh month prayers and post-funeral rites allowed'. Print Edition | Subscribe