SG News (Straits Times)

More places of worship suspend services in bid to curb virus spread

By March 21, 2020 No Comments

Religious groups here are taking more precautions as a result of the coronavirus situation.

All regular worship services have been suspended for Methodist churches and Anglican parish churches islandwide.

The Methodist Church in Singapore announced yesterday that all worship services would be suspended for two weeks.

It plans to resume services on April 5 and said that, in the meantime, it would still provide pastoral care and prayer support, “through means that do not require large face-to-face gatherings”.

It advised members against attending other churches during this period, as doing so “would defeat the purpose and sacrifice we are making to break the chain of infection”.

The Methodist Church in Singapore has more than 40 churches.

The Anglican Diocese of Singapore said on Thursday that services were suspended with immediate effect until April 3 to “create a two-week break in church gatherings”.

There are currently 27 parishes of varying sizes in the Anglican Diocese of Singapore.

The Anglican churches plan to be open before the weekend of April 4 and 5, the start of Holy Week, which is the week leading up to Easter Sunday on April 12.

Online weekend services will be conducted, and pastoral care will be given to the elderly and vulnerable.

The announcement came after St Andrew’s Cathedral, the oldest Anglican site of worship in Singapore, was closed after one of its members was infected with the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, a notice was put up informing members that the church, located next to City Hall MRT station, would be closed from 11.59pm on Wednesday to 11.59pm on April 3 for the premises to be professionally disinfected.

While Taoist temples will generally remain open, the Taoist Federation said yesterday that those organising Taoist events should take measures such as registration and temperature taking.

Organisers were also advised to ensure venues are well ventilated, with areas for participants to wash their hands, and to remind participants not to attend if they are unwell or have a recent travel history to China.

Singapore Buddhist Federation president Seck Kwang Phing told The Straits Times yesterday that Buddhist temples currently do not have plans to close, but advisories are in place. These include temperature taking, reminding devotees to wash their hands, and asking them to declare their travel history.

Earlier, other places of worship announced measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. For instance, public masses have been suspended by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore since Feb 15.

On Monday, the closure of all 70 mosques in Singapore was extended for another nine days to next Thursday. Congregational prayers, such as the five daily prayers as well as Friday prayers yesterday, were not held at mosques.

In the Sikh community, the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board said on Monday that food catering would be suspended at the Central Sikh Temple and the Silat Road Sikh Temple.

Temperature taking would be put in place, while elderly Sikhs were advised to stay away from the gurdwaras (temples) and crowded places until the situation improves.

The Hindu Endowments Board said on Feb 18 that Hindu temple priests are encouraged not to apply holy ash to devotees’ foreheads.

Kits containing supplies such as hand soap and sanitisers, thermometers and surface disinfectants were also distributed to all 24 Hindu temples here.