SINGAPORE: Live music can resume at 16 religious organisations from Oct 3 as part of a pilot programme by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), while some places of worship may trial services for up to 250 people.
Details of a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions were announced on Saturday (Sep 26), after authorities said earlier this week that up to 100 attendees will be allowed at all worship services from Oct 3, double the current limit of 50.
READ: COVID-19 restrictions eased further on worship services, wedding receptions; up to 100 attendees allowed
The religious organisations which are allowed to resume live music must ensure that a maximum of 10 musicians or singers are on stage, with up to five people unmasked.
If singing is conducted in an indoor space, there can only be two singers unmasked at any time, said MCCY in a media release.
A safe distance of 1m applies to all who are masked. Those who are unmasked should keep at least 2m from other individuals.
There should also be at least 3m between musicians or singers and the congregation. “If the stage height places the musicians/worship team at a higher vantage point, a safe distance of more than 3m is encouraged,” said MCCY.
During the service, the congregation must remain masked and can give spoken responses, but with no singing.
The 16 religious organisations and the days on which live music is allowed are:
- Hindu temples: Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple (Thursdays and Saturdays) and Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (Fridays and Saturdays)
- Churches: St Joseph Church (Bukit Timah), Covenant Evangelical Free Church (Woodlands Centre), Blessed Grace Church, Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church, Zion Full Gospel Church, New Life Community Church, Covenant Vision Christian Church (Saturdays and Sundays for all)
- Gurdwaras: Gurdwara Sahib Yishun, Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Central Sikh Temple (Saturdays and Sundays for all)
- Buddhist temples: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Singapore Buddhist Lodge (Saturdays and Sundays for all, and the first and 15th day of the lunar month, where applicable)
- Taoist temples: Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple Association, Hougang Tao Mu Temple (Saturdays and Sundays for all, and the first and 15th day of the lunar month, where applicable)
These places of worship were identified in consultation with members of the National Steering Committee on Racial and Religious Harmony.
They “reflect the diversity of religious practices and worship settings in Singapore”, said MCCY.
ZONING MEASURES, PILOT TO ALLOW 250 WORSHIPPERS
Explaining how the increased limit of 100 attendees at worship services would be implemented, MCCY outlined additional zoning measures.
Places of worship with structured worship services – including churches, mosques and gurdwaras – are to establish two zones, each accommodating up to 50 worshippers.
Each zone must be separated by a physical partition or barrier. To avoid interaction between worshippers, each zone should also have separate entrances and exits, or staggered entry and exit timings.
Places with “more transient worship settings” – including Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu temples – should ensure there is no crowding of worshippers at common areas and in prayer halls. There should be safe distancing between worshippers and no mingling between groups.
READ: COVID-19: More people allowed to return to workplace, subject to conditions like capacity limits
The ministry said that the increased limit of 100 people will also apply to non-congregational religious activities, subject to the religious organisation’s ability to adhere to safe distancing measures given its physical capacity.
However, existing limits of 30 people for funeral-related activities and 50 people for religious classes will remain.
Selected religious organisations can also take part in a pilot programme for them to increase the number of attendees to 250, consisting of five zones with up to 50 people each.
From Oct 3, religious organisations who wish to participate in this pilot can write to MCCY, provided that they have first “safely and steadily” conducted worship services for 100 people, said the ministry.
MCCY added that it will monitor and review the outcomes of the two pilot programmes before considering whether to extend the higher limits on the number of worshippers and live music to more religious organisations and religious activities.
All congregational worship and religious services were suspended in March as Singapore tried to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
They were allowed to resume in June, with up to 50 people at a time, in Phase 2 of Singapore's post-"circuit breaker" reopening.