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Religious groups still cautious about larger services, with only a few churches holding up to 250 people

SINGAPORE — More than three weeks after the authorities began allowing bigger worship services of up to 250 people with pre-event testing, religious groups in Singapore have been proceeding cautiously, with only a small number of churches holding worship services for groups of that size so far.

Religious groups still cautious about larger services, with only a few churches holding up to 250 people

Worshippers at Faith Methodist Church on July 11, 2021.

  • More than three weeks after the loosening of restrictions, religious groups in Singapore have been proceeding cautiously
  • Only a small number of places of worship have held or will be holding larger worship services for up to 250 people
  • Religious groups said that for now, they do not have concrete plans to increase the capacity of worship services to up to 500 people come end-July

 

SINGAPORE — More than three weeks after the authorities began allowing bigger worship services of up to 250 people with pre-event testing, religious groups in Singapore have been proceeding cautiously, with only a small number of churches holding worship services for groups of that size so far.

From June 14, congregational and worship services have been allowed for up to 250 people, as long as they undergo pre-event testing for Covid-19. If there is no pre-event testing, up to 50 persons are allowed.

Those who wait at least 14 days after receiving their second vaccine dose do not have to be tested.

At a press conference last Wednesday (July 7), the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force announced that when half of the population have been fully vaccinated — which is estimated to be around end-July — activities like religious services could be increased to up to 500 people, as long as attendees are all fully vaccinated.

Religious groups told TODAY that for now, however, they do not have concrete plans to increase the capacity of worship services to the maximum allowed come end-July.

Dr Anthony Goh, chairman of the council on communications at The Methodist Church in Singapore, said that its churches are still in the process of assessing and making plans for services at the end of July.

Ms Satwant Kaur, secretary of the Sikh Advisory Board, said that the gurdwaras will continue with congregational prayer services with 50 people as they have been doing in recent weeks. The board helps Sikh gurdwaras or shrines in Singapore work with the authorities to ensure compliance.

“As we understand, the gurdwaras have been allowing congregational services with 50 people as they do not have the capacity to administer and track pre-event testing outcomes,” she added.

But for now, some places of worship have already begun holding services for up to 250 people.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said that some Catholic churches have started to introduce Masses that can take up to 250 people.

“To date, about one-third of our churches have or will be introducing the Masses with capacities for up to 250 persons by July. More churches are expected to come on board in the following months,” said a spokesperson for the archdiocese.

On mycatholic.sg, a website managed by the archdiocese, the nine churches that have or will be introducing Masses for up to 250 people are:

  • Church of the Holy Spirit in Upper Thomson

  • Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Tanjong Katong

  • Church of the Holy Cross in Clementi

  • Church of St Francis Xavier in Serangoon Gardens

  • Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Kovan

  • Church of St Ignatius off Farrer Road

  • Church of the Holy Trinity in Tampines

  • Church of Divine Mercy in Pasir Ris

  • Church of Christ the King in Ang Mo Kio

The spokesperson added that the Catholic Church will “continue to provide a mixture of Masses to cater to the spiritual needs of both the vaccinated and non-vaccinated members of our community.”

OPENING UP MORE SPACES

Separately, Dr Goh from The Methodist Church said that two of its churches have already begun or will be starting services for 250 people.

Wesley Methodist Church in Fort Canning started a service for 250 people on June 27, with pre-event testing. For its service on July 4, about 22 people, including children, went through on-site pre-event testing.

Faith Methodist Church in Commonwealth began services with 250 people on Sunday.

Those attending would have to be fully vaccinated or undergo pre-event testing, unless they can produce a pre-event testing exemption notice.

A spokesperson for the National Council of Churches of Singapore, which is an association of churches and other Christian organisations, said that the approaches taken by churches are dependent on their capacities and number of staff.

“Some churches are increasing the number of services by conducting them at different time slots to allow more people to attend worship,” the spokesperson noted.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said that mosques are opening up more spaces gradually for congregational prayers and religious activities.

The majority of mosques are offering 50 spaces for congregational prayer without pre-event testing, said the spokesperson.

Muis is also progressively rolling out a pilot involving a small number of mosques offering 100 spaces. This will be open to individuals who have been fully vaccinated or have successfully met pre-event testing requirements.

“Muis may gradually increase the number of mosques under this pilot,” the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for the Singapore Buddhist Federation said that the monasteries and temples under its membership would decide on and roll out their own measures.

The Singapore Taoist Federation and The Presbyterian Church in Singapore did not respond by publication time.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination worship

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