SINGAPORE: Observers of the Qing Ming festival are advised to “exercise socially responsible behavior" in light of the COVID-19 situation, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Wednesday (Mar 11).
The Qing Ming festival will take place on Apr 4 and is expected to have a peak period between Mar 21 and Apr 19.
“Those who feel unwell or are sick should stay at home and see a doctor and avoid visiting during the Qing Ming peak periods as crowds are expected at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery and the government columbaria,” NEA said.
“For visitors to our facilities, members of the public are reminded to keep themselves and others around them safe by observing good hygiene habits, such as binning their litter and keeping our shared spaces clean.”
During the festival, religious activities such as the burning of joss paper are expected to increase, NEA said. Practices like this should be done in a “considerate manner” and observers should keep the environment clean.
The authority also cautioned people about potential fire hazards.
“Members of the public are advised to use burners and containers for the burning of joss paper to minimise flying ashes and keeping the environment clean," NEA said.
“(They are also) encouraged to burn joss paper in small quantities to minimise smoke emission and avoid creating fire hazards such as leaving lighted candles and matches unattended, in view of the ongoing warm and dry weather.”
NEA said traffic arrangements will be made to cope with the expected congestion at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery and government columbaria.
Crowds are expected to peak at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery and government columbaria at Mandai, Yishun and Choa Chu Kang during the Qing Ming festival on Apr 4, Good Friday and the weekends within Mar 21 and Apr 19.
"Members of the public who wish to avoid the crowds and traffic congestion are encouraged to avoid visiting in the mornings of these peak periods," NEA said.
“The crowds at Choa Chu Kang Columbarium are expected to be larger this year as we expect more next-of-kin to visit given that niche occupancy at the columbarium has continued to grow.”
To facilitate visitors to the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery and Columbarium, a new shuttle bus service between NEA’s Claims and Registration office and the columbarium will be introduced. Each trip will cost S$1 and the service will operate at 15-minute intervals between 7am and 5pm on Mar 21, 22, 28, 29 and Apr 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19.
For drivers, there will be temporary car park lots at Path 9 Chinese Cemetery during the Qing Ming period.
Alternatively, drivers can park along the left-hand side of the cemetery paths at the burial blocks opposite the columbarium. Drivers are advised to park in a considerate manner to help with traffic flow.
At Mandai, there will also be a shuttle bus service between Khatib MRT Station (Exit A pick-up point) and the rear entrance of Mandai Columbarium along Mandai Avenue. Each trip will cost S$1.40 and the service will operate at 15-minute intervals between 7am and 5pm on Mar 21, 22, 28, 29 and Apr 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19.
Drivers are encouraged to park near Khabit MRT as there will be limited lots at the basement carpark of Mandai Crematorium Block.
"We seek visitors’ understanding that the limited lots at the basement carpark of Mandai Crematorium Block will only be opened to those attending cremation services during this period," NEA said.
NEA also reminded people that third-party grave maintenance services are not regulated by the authority.
“Members of the public may be approached by persons at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery for payment of grave maintenance service fees," said the authority.
“These services are not regulated nor endorsed by NEA. Next-of-kin who have not made prior private arrangements for such services are advised not to pay anyone who claims to have maintained the graves of their loved ones.
"NEA has reminded these third-party grave maintenance service providers not to engage in any illegal activities such as touting, extortion, harassment and cheating."