Coronavirus pandemic

Places of worship will reopen for limited private prayer

The Church of St Alphonsus, popularly known as Novena Church, is among places of worship that had to close fully after the circuit breaker measures kicked in on April 7. When these places reopen for private worship from June 2, there will be a limit
The Church of St Alphonsus, popularly known as Novena Church, is among places of worship that had to close fully after the circuit breaker measures kicked in on April 7. When these places reopen for private worship from June 2, there will be a limit of five members of the same household praying at a time.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Places of worship here will reopen for private worship from June 2, with a limit of five members of the same household praying at a time.

No congregational services will be allowed, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong at a virtual press conference yesterday.

"The religious leaders across all faiths are being briefed on these requirements. They will help to manage the situation in the different settings and ensure that safe distancing, safe management practices are put in place," he said.

Bigger groups could be allowed to gather in places of worship when Singapore moves to the subsequent phases of reopening the country, added Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many places of worship began suspending services in February and March due to the coronavirus outbreak, though they still allowed private worship.

These places later had to close fully after the circuit breaker measures kicked in on April 7.

Some of the earlier coronavirus clusters included churches such as The Life Church and Missions Singapore as well as Grace Assembly of God, which was at one point Singapore's largest cluster with 23 cases linked to it.

Marriage solemnisations will also be allowed to take place in-person again, with up to 10 people present, said the Ministry of Health.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee had previously said 2,723 couples were scheduled to have their marriages solemnised between April 7 and June 1, but had to postpone their plans due to the circuit breaker.

Parliament passed a law on May 5 allowing couples to say their wedding vows remotely via live video links, in the virtual presence of their witnesses, and, in the case of Muslim marriages, also the wali, or the bride's lawful guardian.

The new law came into force last Friday.

Marriage solemnisations will also be allowed to take place in-person again, with up to 10 people present, said the Ministry of Health. Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee had previously said 2,723 couples were scheduled to have their marriages solemnised between April 7 and June 1, but had to postpone their plans due to the circuit breaker.

Families can continue to gather for wakes and funerals, limited to 10 people at one time.

Families can continue to gather for wakes and funerals, limited to 10 people at one time.

Other non-essential activities and social gatherings will remain prohibited, so as not to bring together more people living in different households, said the Health Ministry.

Sports and recreation facilities remain closed, it added.

In the next phase of reopening the country and allowing more activities to resume, social activities in small groups may be permitted, and sports, recreation and outdoor facilities will be able to reopen.

Goh Yan Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2020, with the headline 'Places of worship will reopen for limited private prayer'. Subscribe