SINGAPORE: Some activities for the seventh lunar month are permitted as long as COVID-19 guidelines are adhered to, while getai performances, live music, live auctioning and dinners are not allowed, said the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) on Friday (Aug 7).
The seventh lunar month this year is from Aug 19 to Sep 16, which is during Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening.
MCCY said in a news release that the guidelines were developed in consultation with the Singapore Buddhist Federation and Taoist Federation.
READ: Worship services may resume with up to 50 people at a time in Phase 2 of Singapore's reopening
During this time, religious organisations are allowed to conduct prayer services and activities for up to 50 people at a time with safe management measures in place, including having everyone wear face masks at all times.
Children aged 12 and below, as well as people who may have difficulty breathing when wearing a mask for a prolonged period of time, may wear a face shield instead.
Other safe management measures include prayer services being kept to the shortest duration possible with no mingling between worshippers. All worshippers should also leave immediately after performing their prayers.
Those praying will also need to observe a 1m safe distance between themselves or between groups of no more than five people.
Premises where the services are held should be well-ventilated as well.
Singing and other live performances are not permitted said MCCY, adding that singing is considered a “higher risk activity as it could potentially release a larger amount of droplets”.
READ: COVID-19: 12 religious organisations will be allowed to hold services of up to 100 people as part of pilot
ACTIVITIES THAT ARE NOT PERMITTED
Food receptions and on-site meals are not allowed before or after the prayer service. However, religious organisations are allowed to distribute takeaway meals, pre-packed staple food items and prayer packages to worshippers.
Other activities not permitted this year are dinners, in-person getais, live music and live auctioning, MCCY said, suggesting digital recordings for such events.
For prayers taking place in venues outside of places of worship, it must be conducted by religious organisations “with a good track record of implementing safe management measures” or by workers endorsed by the organisations.
“Permits and approvals must still be obtained from the premise owners and relevant authorities,” MCCY said.
Organisations that do not have a good track record must first seek the support of the Taoist Federation or the Singapore Buddhist Federation, before submitting their applications to use external venues, said the ministry.
Religious organisations may also set up tentage for prayer services but this is subject to approval from relevant agencies.
VISITS TO COLUMBARIA
Customary visits to columbaria in places of worship that have been permitted to operate during Phase 2 are also allowed, with safe distancing measures in place.
“Visits to the columbaria and other permitted religious activities (excluding 7th month prayer and other worship services) can take place concurrently at the place of worship subject to a total cap of 50 persons (excluding religious and supporting workers), and only if these activities can be conducted safely at separate locations within the place of worship,” MCCY said.
“There must be adequate signs and directions to guide the different parties such that they do not interact or meet each other while entering, exiting or while in the premises.”
Before proceeding with any activity, however, religious organisations must submit their safe management plans at least three days earlier to MCCY.
If there are gaps in the plans, the ministry said it will suspend activities until the necessary rectifications are made.
“Should there be any confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to a (religious organisation)’s 7th lunar month activities, the (religious organisation)’s operations and/or premises may be closed for a period of time as determined by the authorities.”