Covid-19 crowd control measures at popular temples for Vesak Day after surge in cases

The Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street will be closed on Vesak Day. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two popular temples have made adjustments to their plans for Vesak Day on May 26, following a surge in Covid-19 cases in the community over the past week.

Buddhists traditionally visit temples on the day - which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha - for rituals such as chanting or taking part in retreats.

Visitor bookings from May 25 at the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in Bright Hill Road have been suspended until further notice because of "recent Covid-19 developments", a spokesman for the temple said in response to queries from The Straits Times on Tuesday (May 4).

In 2019, the temple attracted thousands of devotees on the eve of Vesak Day to perform the "three steps, one bow" ritual, a long procession done in reverence to the founder of Buddhism.

Separately, a spokesman said the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street will be closed on Vesak Day.

From May 10, odd-and-even entry restrictions will also kick in for the first time at the temple to curb the spread of Covid-19.

This will be similar to entry restrictions at Peninsula Plaza and Lucky Plaza, with only those whose identification numbers end in even digits allowed to visit on even dates, and only those with odd numbers on odd dates.

Visitors should take along their identification card or ez-link card to gain entry.

These measures to control crowds are for the safety of devotees, many of whom are senior citizens, the spokesman added.

On Chinese New Year's Eve, Feb 11, the temple temporarily closed after 5,000 people turned up for the annual incense offerings and to pay their respects.

Meanwhile, devotees at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery can celebrate the festival with online activities and live-streamed events.

Its spokesman added that the monastery is still working with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth on safe management measures for on-site events and will announce further updates on its platforms.

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