COVID-19: Places of worship to reopen for small group prayers, in-person marriage solemnisations to resume

A worshipper places gold paper on a statue of Buddha during Vesak Day celebrations in Singapore. (Reuters file photo)
A worshipper places gold paper on a statue of Buddha during Vesak Day celebrations here. (Reuters file photo)

SINGAPORE — A limited number of members from the same household can visit places of worship with the easing of circuit breaker measures from 2 June.

Under Phase 1 easing of measures, places of worship, such as churches and temples, will be allowed to open for private worship, said authorities at a virtual COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce press conference on Tuesday (19 May).

Up to five members of the same household will be allowed to pray together at these places at any one time.

Multi-ministry taskforce co-chair Lawrence Wong said that religious leaders across all faiths were being briefed on the requirements and they would help to manage the situation and ensure safe distancing practices are adhered to.

“After this in Phase 2, we can allow... bigger groups together as we progress through the phases, but for now Phase 1 is only for private worship, no congregational services will be permitted,” said Wong, who is also National Development Minister.

Individuals will also be able to have their marriage solemnised in-person with up to 10 persons allowed to attend.

The announcement comes after Parliament passed a Bill on 5 May to allow couples to have their unions solemnised via video link for the first time.

Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures for Solemnization and Registration of Marriages) Bill, couples –where at least one party is a Singaporean or permanent resident – will be able to verify documents, make statutory declarations, and have their marriages solemnised via a video link. All parties involved in such solemnisations must be physically present in Singapore.

With the Act in effect from 15 May, couples can proceed with video-link solemnisations starting from 20 May.

Separately, families of up to 10 persons will be able to gather for wakes and funerals at any one time.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) announced on 12 March the temporary closure of mosques. On 24 March, Muis said the 70 mosques would be closed indefinitely.

Around the same time, all regular worship services were suspended for Methodist churches and Anglican parish churches islandwide for about two weeks.

Public masses for Catholics were first suspended on 15 February and later suspended indefinitely.

All places of worship were closed when the circuit breaker period began on 7 April.

To date, Singapore reported 451 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the tally to 28,794.

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