COVID-19 restrictions eased further on worship services, wedding receptions; up to 100 attendees allowed

COVID-19 restrictions eased further on worship services, wedding receptions; up to 100 attendees allowed

A man wearing a facemask prays opposite a Hindu temple in Chinatown Singapore
A man wearing a face mask prays opposite a Hindu temple in Chinatown, Singapore on Apr 13, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Up to 100 attendees will be allowed at all worship services and weddings from Oct 3, up from the current limit of 50.

The announcement, made at a multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) virtual press conference on Wednesday (Sep 23), follows a pilot by the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY) from Aug 7, which allowed an increase in the limit of worshippers for congregational and worship services at 12 religious organisations.

"The pilot has shown that safe distancing measures can be effectively implemented," said Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong. "We hope these measures will go some way to help support Singaporeans’ spiritual needs, especially during these difficult times."

READ: COVID-19: 12 religious organisations will be allowed to hold services of up to 100 people as part of pilot

READ: COVID-19: More people allowed to return to workplace, subject to conditions like capacity limits

In a news release, the Ministry of Health (MOH) also said that MCCY is considering a pilot to increase worship limits up to 250 people (five zones of 50 people for congregational services) and will release further details subsequently.

"Globally and in Singapore we have seen large clusters … at religious gatherings, and we have therefore been very cautious in mitigating transmissions at these events," said Mr Gan. "At the same time, we recognise that religious activities and worship are important facets of many Singaporeans daily lives."

READ: 12 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, including 1 community infection

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WEDDING POSTPONEMENTS “MAY NOT BE PRACTICAL”

As an expansion to a current pilot for wedding receptions, up to 100 unique attendees will be allowed at weddings, subject to venue capacity. This figure includes the wedding couple but excludes vendors and service providers.

Participants in a wedding can be split into multiple zones of up to 50 people each, or split by staggered timings with up to 50 people in each slot, said MOH. There should be at least 30 minutes between slots for the event space to be cleaned and disinfected.

"We have taken a cautious approach to events like weddings. Some couples have put off their wedding plans in the hope that they can ride out the pandemic and proceed with their original plans for a large wedding reception like what we used to do before the COVID-19 pandemic," said Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong. 

"But the end of the pandemic is still some way off, and indefinitely postponing a wedding may not be practical or desirable."

COVID-19 restrictions to further ease for weddings, funerals from Aug 4; more people allowed to attend

At the beginning of Phase 2 of Singapore's reopening on Jun 19, marriage solemnisations were allowed to take place with up to 20 people. It was further expanded to 50 people from Aug 4.

From Oct 3, this cap will go up to 100 people, split across multiple zones of up to 50 people each, said MOH. Venue operators may impose a lower cap if they are unable to comply with the zoning or staggered timing requirements, and video link solemnisations will continue to be offered as an option for couples.

"Although wedding receptions are higher-risk events as large groups of people interact and mingle, we believe that with strict adherence to the safe distancing and safe management measures, and discipline by all guests to do their part, we can mitigate the risks and still enable a joyful occasion for wedding couples and their families and friends as they come together to share this meaningful milestone in the couple’s lives," added Mr Gan.

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A pilot will also be launched from November to allow wedding receptions organised by a registered wedding organiser to take place at Housing Development Board (HDB) common areas, such as void decks and multi-purpose halls managed by town councils. 

Further details, including the commencement date for this initiative, will be released at a later stage, said MOH.

"The increase in the number of attendees is aimed at facilitating marriages that may have been postponed or put on hold. Given the dynamic situation of the COVID19 situation, we encourage couples who are ready to proceed with their wedding plans to do so without delay," said MOH. 

"The Multi-Ministry Taskforce will continue to review the parameters of marriage solemnisations and wedding receptions based on the ability of organisers and attendees to work together to adhere to the necessary safe management measures. The pilot can only be sustained if these higher-risk events are conducted in a manner that is safe for the wedding couple, their family and friends, and the general public."

In addition, large cinema halls with more than 300 seats will be allowed to have up to three zones of up to 50 patrons each, said MOH.

Other cinema halls will also be permitted to increase their capacity to 50 per cent of their original operating capacity, or maintain the current limit of up to 50 patrons per hall, subject to the relevant safe management measures.

Watch the full press conference: 

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Source: CNA/mt(ac)

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