SINGAPORE: The Catholic Church on Tuesday (Jun 2) decided to allow parishes to reopen for private worship in Phase 1 of Singapore's post-circuit breaker period, reversing an earlier decision.
Churches can now reopen if they are able to fulfil safety requirements set out by the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY). These include putting in place safe management measures and ensuring a one-way flow for entry and exit points.
This is a reversal of its decision last week to remain closed during Phase 1.
“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 William Goh said then in a letter to parishioners.
Explaining the decision to reopen in Phase 1, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s communications director Andre Ahchak told CNA on Tuesday that the Church had sought clarification from MCCY on the use of volunteers.
"We were cautious in our initial approach until yesterday when the Catholic Church asked MCCY for clarification on the use of volunteers in permitted church activities," he said.
"In their email response dated Jun 1, MCCY said that volunteers can be engaged to facilitate permitted activities (including queue management) from Jun 2 onwards."
Volunteers should be mobilised on an "essential needs basis", be kept to a minimum and observe safe distancing measures, he added.
Churches that have the necessary support and measures in place can therefore reopen for private worship.
READ: Singapore to exit circuit breaker on Jun 1, visiting of parents, places of worship allowed with restrictions
As for how the Church will resume even more activities in Phase 2, Mr Ahchak said that its COVID-19 task force is in discussions with MCCY.
"We are currently giving our priests and parishes some direction on the needful so that they can reopen in Phase 2, which can be in late June," he added.
Parishes are also already installing the digital check-in SafeEntry system, he noted, as well as putting in place safe management plans.
“Training also needs to be in place for those who will be in the front line as we slowly progress towards Phase 2 and then Phase 3,” he added.
As part of MCCY's safe reopening measures, places of worship can only accommodate up to five households for private worship at any one time, subject to adequate safe distancing measures.
In addition, each household can only have up to five members praying together at any one time in the place of worship.
There must be no physical interaction between worshippers from different households.