SINGAPORE: Catholic churches will not reopen for private worship during Phase 1 after Singapore exits its "circuit breaker" period, the Archbishop of Singapore said on Wednesday (May 27).
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) announced earlier this month the measures religious organisations must take before they can reopen for private worship during Phase 1, which starts on Jun 2 after Singapore ends its circuit breaker on Jun 1.
READ: Singapore to exit circuit breaker on Jun 1, visiting of parents, places of worship allowed with restrictions
“Because of the risks of infection, Phase 1 carries many restrictions and requirements to all religious organisations on how such private worship is to be conducted,” Archbishop William Goh said, in a letter to parishioners.
He added that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese has studied the restrictions and requirements and consulted with parish priests before arriving at the decision.
“Because we are not allowed to engage the help of volunteers, it will be very difficult to fully comply with the strict conditions set by MCCY for Phase 1,” Archbishop Goh said.
“We have to err on the side of caution out of pastoral responsibility. We seek your kind understanding that both our staff and worshippers are uppermost on our minds for the best outcome always," he added.
Wedding solemnisations and funeral services can go ahead during this period, although they are required to comply with the restrictions and requirements set by the ministry.
According to MCCY, in-person marriage solemnisations can involved up to 10 people who are immediate family members of the couple, with the exception of two witnesses who may be non-family members.
Couples are encouraged to consider undergoing their solemnisations via video link to "better protect" themselves and their families from the risk of infection, the ministry said.
Wakes and funeral rites can continue to involve up to 10 people at one time.
Those who attend solemnisations or funeral services must minimise their interaction with other attendees and leave the place of worship immediately after the event. There should not be a post-event reception, MCCY said.
Parishes have established online platforms to reach out to church members. Archbishop Goh said the archdiocese is “looking forward to opening our churches for private prayer and adoration” when some requirements are relaxed under Phase 2.
The Catholic Church is also working on introducing a digital attendance registration system for Mass and public health safeguards ahead of a full reopening.
Mass was first suspended indefinitely on Feb 14 over COVID-19 concerns.
It initially announced that it will resume services on Mar 14 and 15, but the Catholic Church decided to continue the suspension as cases continued to rise.