UPDATE TO FEBRUARY 24: The multi-departmental task force has announced that it will consolidate and streamline the new safe management measures in one go instead of two phases (February 25 and March 4) as previously announced, given the current increase in cases and the work needed to get different settings to adhere to the new rules.
The revised effective date will be revealed shortly and the current rules will apply until then.
From next Friday (4 March), worshipers at religious services in Singapore will no longer need to be separated into areas, and safe distancing will not be mandatory, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).
Size limits for services involving more than 1,000 congregants will also be lifted in venues that can accommodate twice that number of attendees, the MCCY added.
This is in line with the simplified Covid-19 measures announced by the multi-ministerial task force on February 16 as the country moves into a post-pandemic phase.
Singing in congregation, however, remains prohibited under the new measures.
1. Service size: Depending on venue capacity, more than 1,000 worshipers may be allowed
From March 4, religious services or other religious activities can now involve more than 1,000 participants, provided that the number of worshipers does not exceed 50% of the venue’s capacity.
“For example, a service with 1,200 worshipers will have to be held in a place that can accommodate at least 2,400 worshippers. Otherwise, the worship service should be capped at 1,000 congregants,” the MCCY said.
However, all attendees should be fully vaccinated as religious organizations should continue to implement vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) for all services, the MCCY said. All participants over the age of 6 must wear a mask at all times, although young children are encouraged to use a mask.
SafeEntry, using the TraceTogether app or token, will continue to be required for registration. Churches will not need to maintain an attendee list for contact tracing because TraceTogether performs this function, the MCCY confirmed.
2. Zones or safety distance are no longer mandatory
From March 4, the current requirements for separating worshipers into zones of 100 will be lifted.
Worshipers can sit without a safe distance between them and without needing to be arranged in groups of 5. However, safe distance is always encouraged where possible.
The MCCY advised religious organizations to avoid choke points and spread crowds as evenly as possible to avoid overcrowding.
3. Performers on stage: no need for 1 m distance if masked; congregation distance now 1 meter
From February 25, if all performers in a group are masked, they no longer need to maintain a safe distance from other groups such as worshipers or religious workers.
However, if there are unmasked performers in the group, they must be in groups of five and must continue to keep a distance of 1 meter from other groups.
In accordance with existing measures, up to 50 people will be allowed to participate in the conduct of the worship service, and up to 20 people involved in the conduct of the service can be unmasked at any time to sing or play wind instruments or brass. They must have a negative ART test result taken within 24 hours of the end of the live performance.
There must be at least 1 meter of distance between those who perform on stage and the faithful.
As before, worshipers are not allowed to sing, even with masks.
4. Religion Classes: Up to 1,000 people allowed, no VDS
From March 4, masked religious rites, activities and classes that are not part of a worship service may involve up to 1,000 people, subject to prevailing safety and room capacity requirements. The MCCY has confirmed that these classes will not be subject to vaccination-differentiated safe management measures, or VDS.
5. Courses for children: no FET required for volunteers
From February 18, those involved in conducting religion classes for children 12 and under are no longer required to take the Quick and Easy Test (FET), which has been in place since October 2021.
6. Wedding celebrations: Capacity limits identical to religious services, with VDS
From March 4, wedding celebrations will have a capacity similar to that of services, and can therefore involve more than 1,000 participants, provided that the number of worshipers does not exceed 50% of the capacity of the place. Such events are VDS events, requiring all participants to be vaccinated.
7. Funerals held in churches: capacity limits are the same as for worship services, without VDS
From March 4, “funerals in places of worship will be permitted without VDS, with capacity requirements similar to worship services,” the MCCY said. This means that funerals held in worship services can involve more than 1,000 attendees, as long as the number of worshipers does not exceed 50% of the venue’s capacity.
No receptions with food or drink are permitted. Live non-wind instrumental music is permitted, but other performances – singing, dancing, variety shows – are not.
Columbarium visits in places of worship for up to 5 people will continue to be permitted without VDS.
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