COVID-19: Mandai, Choa Chu Kang and Yishun columbaria to close

SINGAPORE - APRIL 04: People search for their loved one's urn at the Bright Hill Crematorium & Columbarium during the Qing Ming Festival on April 4, 2013 in Singapore. Qing Ming, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, is an annual Chinese festival to commemorate the dead. Families mark the day by visiting and cleaning the graves of their ancestors, burning incense and paper money and presenting offerings such as food, tea, wine and joss paper accessories. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

[UPDATE: All government-run columbaria will now close from 7 April to 4 May]

SINGAPORE – In light of the elevated set of safe distancing measures announced by the government on Friday (3 April), all government-managed columbaria (Choa Chu Kang, Mandai and Yishun Columbarium) will now be closed from 7 April to 4 May.

Previously, it was announced that these columbaria would close on the weekends.

In a press statement send on Saturday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that the columbaria will open on Monday, from 8am to 11.59pm.

During the closure period, installation of urns into niches may continue, with permits from NEA. Next-of-kin may be present, but should be limited in number, with proper safe distancing observed, the agency said.

Choa Chu Kang Cemetery will remain open for burials and Mandai Crematorium will remain open for cremation services.

Earlier in March, the NEA had said that government-run columbaria would close on weekends and public holidays until 26 April 2020, but would open 24 hours on weekdays.

This coincided with the Qing Ming Festival which takes place on 4 April this year, with the peak visiting period expected to last between 21 March and 19 April.

In a press release, the NEA had said that visitors should make plans to visit the columbarium on weekdays.

NEA had extended the opening hours for Choa Chu Kang, Mandai and Yishun columbaria to 24 hours daily, from 8am on Monday to 5.30pm on Friday, until 24 April. Many private columbaria had taken similar measures.

The intent, the NEA said, was to spread the crowd size from the two weekend days to five weekdays, as well as the night hours. For the public columbaria, the weekday crowd is usually only about 30 per cent of the weekend crowd.

The NEA had urged visitors to exercise socially responsible behaviour. 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 may be expected, it had added. Visitors were requested to:

  • minimise the family size visiting to no more than four persons

  • refrain from bringing elderly family members and young children

  • avoid prolonging their stay at the facilities

  • avoid crowding around the prayer and joss paper burning areas in the columbaria

  • keep a safe distance – of at least 1m – from other visitors

The NEA had said it would monitor the situation closely and may implement further measures for crowd control.

Sanitisers would also be available at the lift lobbies and efforts were made to “space out” the table for prayers. 

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