- The Straits Times
This article was updated on Thursday (Feb 20).
Religious authorities in Singapore have ramped up health and safety measures at places of worship here after a second church was identified in relation to the coronavirus on Wednesday (Feb 12).
Twenty-eight cases have now been linked to the Grace Assembly of God Church and The Life Church and Missions Singapore in Paya Lebar, which has since stopped all services.
The health ministry said on Monday (Feb 17) that religious events and worship at temples could continue, but with appropriate precautionary measures, such as minimising sharing of common items and providing good ventilation at venues.
Here are the measures announced by religious authorities and places of worship to protect attendees:
Measures for Christians
The Singapore Catholic Church’s Archbishop said that that all masses across the island would be suspended indefinitely from Feb 15 onward.
Summary of Pastoral Letter on COVID-19: Suspension of Masses and Large Gatherings(1) All public Masses, both on…
Others, like Agape Baptist Church and Bethesda (Katong) Church, now require attendees to declare their names, contact numbers and travel history for contact tracing purposes.
New Creation Church said it would use “state-of-the-art thermal scanners, similar to those used by Changi Airport and hospitals across Singapore” to detect attendees running a fever, while the Kampong Kapor Methodist Church said it would allow worshippers 15 minutes to cool down after their walk from the nearby MRT if they displayed a slight fever, but would ask them to return home if their temperature did not come down after two takings.
Bethesda (Katong) Church also requested attendees with “compromised immunities” don masks when attending church, while The Presbyterian Church in Singapore advised member churches to hand out pre-packaged Holy Communion and have servers wear disposable gloves and masks.
Measures for Muslims
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) said it was increasing sanitisation of mosque facilities, including door knobs, stair railings and faucets, and provide soap and hand sanitiser.
It also planned to increase ventilation of mosques before congregational and Friday prayers, and ask caregivers dropping off children for pre-school or classes to leave the premises immediately afterwards.
Like in Christian churches, mosques would also do temperature-taking, attendee registration, and run live-steams of events for those who could not attend, MUIS added.
PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES TAKEN BY MOSQUES With the DORSCON Level now at Orange, our mosques have stepped up efforts to…
A second statemented warned prayer attendees that the virus could remain on improperly cleaned carpets used by an infected worshipper, and asked them to bring personal mats to cover their prostration area.
It also advised women to bring their own prayer clothing, and reassured attendees that cleaning their hands with hand sanitisers containing alcohol was allowed.
Measures for Buddhists
According to a Feb 5 advisory, the Singapore Buddhist Federation advised Buddhist temples to cancel activities and implement rules that participants of religious gatherings should use their real names when registering to facilitate contact tracking.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Buddhist Lodge said it was increasing the frequency of its cleaning and asked anyone who had been to China recently to avoid visiting for 14 days, while the popular Buddha Tooth Relic Temple said it was livestreaming events like ceremonies and rituals.
The Singapore Buddhist Federation cancelled its Sunday school, while the Buddhist Fellowship Youths group also cancelled its Feb 7 youth service. “It’s advisable for all of us to stay at home,” the group said on Facebook.