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Transition phase for religious activities

This document provides the conditions under which religious organisations (ROs) are permitted to carry out activities in places of worship from 22 November 2021.

On 20 November 2021, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) announced further easing of community safe management measures (SMMs), in a careful and calibrated manner, as we exit the Stabilisation Period into the Transition Phase. This document provides the conditions under which religious organisations (ROs) are permitted to carry out activities in places of worship from 22 November 2021.

Transition Phase

  1. The key changes affecting religious activities from 22 November 2021 are:
    a. Increase in permissible group size from 2 persons to 5 persons: and
    b. Special provisions for wedding solemnizations, subject to additional precautions (see paragraph 15).
  2. From 1 December 2021, individuals who are medically ineligible for all COVID-19 vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme will be able to enter places of worship or participate in religious activities where there are vaccination-differentiated measures (e.g. worship services involving more than 50 persons). Please see paragraph 9 for restrictions for children under 12 years old.

    Annex A summarizes the changes that will take effect from 22 November 2021.

    Religious activities

    Worship Services

  3. ROs may continue to conduct congregational and other worship services at places of worship for up to 50 unvaccinated worshippers at a time, subject to SMMs and the safe capacity of the premises. This cap excludes religious and supporting workers, whose numbers should be kept to a minimum. ROs are strongly encouraged to only deploy fully vaccinated workers for worship services.
  4. We strongly encourage all religious and supporting workers (including cleaners and volunteers) to undergo a self-administered Antigen Rapid Test (ART), before they are deployed on-site during this period, even if they are fully vaccinated.
  5. Worshippers can participate in worship services in groups of no more than 5 persons (increase from 2 persons today).
  6. ROs can conduct congregational and other worship services, for more than 50 and up to 1000 worshippers at a time, only if all worshippers, religious and supporting workers are vaccinated1.
  7. From 10 November 2021, for congregational and other worship services exceeding 50 worshippers, worshippers have to be segregated into zones holding no more than 100 worshippers each.
    a. As there should be no mingling of individuals across zones, each zone must be completely separated from another by either a physical solid partition (at least 1.8m high if not floor-to-ceiling, from wall-to-wall); or at least 2 metres physical spacing demarcated by continuous physical barriers (e.g. rope barrier).
    b. There must either be a separate ingress/egress for each zone or staggered entrance/exit timings so that worshippers from different zones do not mix with one another during entry/exit.
    c. ROs must also take reasonable steps to ensure that worshippers do not cross the physical barrier (where applicable) or enter another zone that they are not assigned to.
  8. Children aged 12 years and below are currently ineligible for any COVID-19 vaccine in the National Vaccination Programme, and are exempted from undergoing PET. Children aged 12 years and below2 can participate in vaccinated only- worship services provided they make up no more than 20% of the total number of worshippers on-site. If there is more than one child in the group, all children must be from the same household.
  9. Seniors aged 60 years old and above are strongly discouraged from attending or supporting religious activities, even if they are vaccinated. Seniors should also take their vaccination booster shot if they are eligible.
  10. ROs should continue to observe the following SMMs for worship services (including services for vaccinated individuals): a. Keep worship services to as short a duration as possible. There must be no reception or mingling between worshippers, before, during or after each worship service.
    b. All persons present (except children below 6 years of age) must wear a face mask at all times.3 Face shields are not permitted as substitutes for face masks. Young children are still strongly encouraged to use a mask, especially when they are in a group setting (e.g. attending worship service).
    c. Singing by worshippers with masks on is not permitted.
    d. Live performance elements are permitted during the worship service at places of worship, with the following SMMs (see Annex B for details).
    i. A maximum of 50 persons are allowed to be involved in/support the conduct of the worship service. This includes persons on-stage, backstage or off-stage.
    ii. Up to 20 persons who are involved in the conduct of the worship service may unmask at any given time, of which up to 20 persons can be unmasked for singing or playing of wind/brass instruments. Persons should only unmask when required to perform their duties.
    iii. If there are persons unmasked for singing or playing of wind/brass instruments, all persons involved in the live performance elements must be vaccinated. Otherwise, unmasking for singing or playing of wind/brass instruments is not allowed.
    iv. Persons unmasked for singing or playing of wind/brass instruments must also undergo ART by an approved test provider4 with results valid5 through the duration of the service for which they are unmasked for this purpose.
    v. There must be at least a 2 metres setback between persons involved in the conduct of live performance elements and worshippers.
    vi. Minimise the duration of live performance elements for congregational and other worship services.
    vii. During rehearsals for live performance elements, if there are persons unmasked for singing or playing of wind/brass instruments, all persons involved in the rehearsal must be vaccinated.
    viii. Masked singing will be treated in the same way as unmasked singing (i.e. masked singers will count towards the maximum number allowed to unmask for singing and/or playing of wind instruments).
    ix. From 22 November 2021, static performers (i.e. in the same position throughout the live performance) may be in groups of 5 persons (increase from 2 persons today)
    i. At least 1 metre safe distance from other groups if there are no persons singing and/or playing wind/brass instruments
    ii. At least 2 metres safe distance from other groups if there are persons singing and/or playing wind/brass instruments
    e. There should be no sharing of prayer and other common items (e.g. holy books, passing of offertory baskets, prayer mats) as this increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Worshippers are to bring along their personal prayer items instead, where required.
    f. Places of worship with reduced air circulation (e.g. enclosed prayer spaces, air-conditioned worship hall) should, where possible, open doors and windows to naturally ventilate the space after each use6.

    Marriage Solemnizations

  11. ROs may continue to use places of worship to conduct marriage solemnizations where:
    a. Solemnizations involving up to 50 attendees (including bride and groom): for unvaccinated attendees.

    b. Solemnizations involving 51 to 1000 attendees (including bride and groom): all attendees must be vaccinated7.
  12. These activities are subject to SMMs and the safe distancing capacity of the solemnization premises. The caps at paragraph 12 exclude the solemnizer and religious and supporting workers, whose numbers should be kept to a minimum.
    a. From 10 November 2021, if the total number of attendees is more than 50 (including the wedding couple), they must be segregated into zones of up to 100 persons each (increase from 50 persons; see paragraph 8 for zoning requirements). An individual attending the solemnization must remain within his or her respective assigned zone and must not enter an unassigned zone.
    b. Attendees must maintain a 1 metre safe distance between groups except a core “wedding party”8, which is allowed to comprise up to 20 persons (including the couple and their two witnesses). There should be no intermingling or mixing between groups nor between the “wedding party” and these other groups.
    c. Up to 10 persons may be unmasked when engaged in public speaking during the solemnization
    , while maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres from the audience and at least 1 metre from each other.
    d. There must not be any reception with food and drinks, or wedding celebrations that are not essential religious rites.
    e. ROs must also comply with prevailing safe management measures stipulated on the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)’s website9.
  13. Solemnizations at places of worship10 may continue to involve live instrumental music (non-wind/brass) with the necessary SMMs in place (see Annex C). The number of persons involved in/supporting the live instrumental music segment should be kept to the minimum. No other performances (e.g. singing, dance, variety act) are allowed.
  14. From 22 November 2021, wedding couples or individuals from the Wedding Party who (i) undergo an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) minimally supervised by the venue operator (either in person or virtually), within 24 hours prior to the end of the event; or (ii) have a valid PET obtained within 24 hours prior to the end of the event will be allowed to enjoy the following special provisions for their solemnization:
    a. Wedding couple will be allowed to unmask throughout the solemnization while maintaining a safe distance of 2 metres from other attendees except for the Wedding Party.
    b. Up to 10 individuals from the Wedding Party will be allowed to unmask and sing during the solemnization, while maintaining a safe distance of 2 metres from the other attendees when these individuals are unmasked.
  15. ROs are strongly encouraged to continue offering video link solemnizations as an option for couples.

    Funerals

  16. Funerals, wakes, installation of niches and post-funeral rites at places of worship can involve not more than 30 attendees at any time, and in groups of no more than 5 persons (excluding religious and supporting workers, whose numbers should be kept to a minimum), subject to SMMs and the safe capacity of the premises.
    a. There must not be any reception with food and drinks.
    b. ROs must also comply with prevailing safe management measures listed on MTI’s website11. 
  17. Funerary-related activities at places of worship12 may continue to involve live instrumental music (non-wind/brass) with the necessary safe management measures in place (see Annex C). Persons involved in/supporting the live instrumental music segment should be kept to the minimum. No other performances (e.g. singing, dance, variety act) are allowed.
  18. Visits to columbaria at places of worship should be kept as short as possible, with no mingling between groups. Each group may have no more than 5 persons (increase from 2 persons today).

    Other Religious Activities

  19. Religious rites that are not part of a worship service are limited to 5 worshippers (increase from 2 worshippers today) at any one time. Religious and supporting workers involved in the conduct of these rites should be kept to a minimum.
  20. ROs may conduct in-person religious rites and other religious activities (e.g. religious classes, pastoral services) for all persons (including children aged 12 and below13) in gatherings not exceeding 50 persons, subject to SMMs appropriate to the nature of the religious activity.
    a. Each religious class must not exceed 50 persons, including the religious worker/teacher (and supporting workers, if any) with each group comprising no more than 5 persons. As a best practice, we encourage a greater separation of 2 metres between groups of students attending religious classes.
    b. ROs are strongly encouraged to conduct religious classes online
    .
  21. Religious and supporting workers (including volunteers) conducting in-person religious classes for children aged 12 and below more frequently than once a month are required to undergo Fast and Easy Testing (FET).
    a. The mandatory FET will be conducted once a week (7 days), regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated workers who are under this FET regime will be subject to the more stringent Vaccinate or Regular Test (VoRT) requirements (i.e. testing twice a week).
    b. ROs are required to notify MCCY through the CPRO website of (i) the names of the persons involved in the conduct of the class; and (ii) appointed supervisor to oversee the FET, before conducting the religious class
    . More information on the FET guidelines are available on the CPRO website.

    Recording and Broadcast of Religious Services and Prayers

  22. ROs are encouraged to continue supporting the religious needs of their communities via remote means such as recording and broadcast of religious services and prayers.
    a. ROs can have up to 50 persons on-location for these productions, of which up to 20 persons can be unmasked at any one time, with no more than 2 persons unmasked for singing and/or playing wind/brass instruments.
    b. If everyone involved in the production is vaccinated, all 20 persons can be unmasked for singing and/or playing of wind instruments.
    c. Masked singing will be treated in the same way as unmasked singing (i.e. masked singers will count towards the maximum number allowed to unmask for singing and/or playing of wind instruments).
    d. From 22 November 2021, static performers (i.e. in the same position throughout the live performance) involved in this production may be in groups of 5 persons (increase from 2 persons today) with
    i. At least 1 metre safe distance from other groups if there are no persons singing and/or playing wind/brass instruments
    ii. At least 2 metres safe distance from other groups if there are persons singing and/or playing wind/brass instruments
    e. The time spent on-location for this activity should be kept as short as possible. The production team must also put in place safe management measures, including no-cross deployment between locations, and thorough cleaning of technical equipment. There shall be no audience.

    Safe capacity in the place of worship

  23. All the permitted religious activities in paragraphs 12 to 23 (i.e. excluding congregational and other worship services) can continue to take place concurrently, subject to a total premises cap14 of 1000 persons – subject to SMMs and the safe distancing capacity of the premises – and only if these activities can be conducted safely at separate locations within the place of worship, with no interaction between worshippers while entering, exiting or while in the premises, and where the activities also comply with the activity SMMs.
  24. ROs are strongly encouraged to support the religious needs of their communities through remote means, as far as possible, in line with national guidelines to reduce social interactions, and thus minimise risk of COVID-19 transmission.
    a. ROs should consider reducing other concurrent activities when congregational and other worship services are ongoing, so that there is a smaller total number of people on the premises at any one time, which will help to minimise the risk of large clusters from forming.

    Deployment of Manpower

  25. ROs should primarily engage their religious workers and staff to support the permitted religious activities but can deploy volunteers to support if necessary. The number of personnel involved in conducting each permitted activity should be kept to a minimum.
  26. Work-from-home is the default arrangement for workplaces. During this Transition Phase, the snap 10-day Work from Home (10D WFH) regime will be suspended. Social gatherings at the workplace will continue to be disallowed.Religious workers and administrative staff should comply with prevailing workplace SMMs stipulated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).15 Restrictions against cross-deployment16 across worksites remain in place.

    TraceTogether and SafeEntry

  27. TraceTogether-only SafeEntry, where the TraceTogether App or Token is required for SafeEntry check-ins, is required at all venues that are required to implement SafeEntry17. ROs must make the necessary preparations to accept check-ins by the TraceTogether App or Token. ROs can refer to www.safeentry.gov.sg for FAQs, or more information on how to set up TraceTogether-only SafeEntry for their premises.
  28. To provide quicker and more seamless check-in using the TraceTogether App or Token, all ROs conducting congregational and worship services are required to deploy the SafeEntry Gateway (SEGW) at their main entrances. ROs may deploy either the physical SEGW Box or use the SEGW function found in the latest version of the SafeEntry (Business) App based on their needs [Refer to https://go.gov.sg/gateway-overview for more information].

    Mandatory submission of safe management plans

  29. ROs must acknowledge through the CPRO website the new conditions for religious activities imposed before commencing the activities. ROs that have not submitted their Safe Management Plans (SMPs) previously for Phase 3 will need to submit their plans, at least 2 days before commencing any activities outlined above. The detailed requirements and format for submitting these SMPs can be found at www.cpro.gov.sg.
  30. MCCY reserves the right to suspend a RO’s activities if there are gaps in the SMP submitted and until the necessary rectifications are made. ROs are responsible for the implementation of safe management measures and action could be taken for lapses and breaches. Should there be any confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to a RO’s premises or place of worship, the premises may be closed for a period of time as determined by the authorities.

    Working together towards a covid-19 resilient Singapore

  31. We thank ROs for their continued vigilance and understanding during the Stabilisation Phase. Even as we resume our transition towards living with COVID-19, we need to do so in a careful and controlled manner. Hence, we seek the continued cooperation of the ROs and their followers to exercise social responsibility, protecting the more vulnerable members of our community and ensuring that religious activities can continue safely. MCCY will continue to work with our ROs to ensure a COVID-19 resilient environment for religious activities. 

Issued by:
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

For more information and FAQs on COVID-19 for the religious sector, please visit www.cpro.gov.sg or contact MCCY’s Crisis Preparedness for Religious Organisations Programme Office at cpro@mccy.gov.sg.

1From 1 December 2021, individuals who are medically ineligible for all COVID-19 vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme can take part in these larger worship services. An individual is considered vaccinated if he/ she has been: a) fully vaccinated, i.e. has received the full regimen of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty, Moderna or WHO EUL vaccines, with an additional two weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective, b) recovered from COVID-19, or c) has obtained a negative result on a pre-event test taken in the past 24 hours before the expected end of the event. Refer to https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/pet for more details.

2This measure applies to children 12 years and below (i.e. born in and after 2009).

3Children 12 years and below, as well as persons who have health conditions that may result in breathing or other medical difficulties when a mask is worn for a prolonged period of time, may wear a face shield in lieu of a face mask. 

4Refer to https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/pet for more details on ART, including a list of MOH-approved COVID-19 test providers.

5The test results are only valid for 24 hours from the time an individual registers at the testing premises to take the test. The RO must ensure that the result of the test is valid until the end of the participation in the worship service.

6Refer to: https://www.nea.gov.sg/media/news/news/index/good-hygiene-and-improved-ventilation-to-further-reduce-the-risk-of-covid-19-transmission

7From 1 December 2021, individuals who are medically ineligible for all COVID-19 vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme can take part in these larger worship services.

8Besides the couple and their two witnesses, the core wedding party can comprise a group of close family and/or friends who are required or expected to interact with one another during the course of the solemnization.

9Refer to Safe Management Measures for Marriage Solemnizations and Wedding Receptions at: https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/safemanagement/sector.

10Should ROs conduct solemnizations at third-party premises, live instrumental music (non-wind/brass) is permitted only at indoor third-party premises. ROs may also be subject to other safe management measures as stipulated by the premises owner.

11Refer to Safe Management Measures for Funeral Events at: https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/safemanagement/sector.

12Live instrumental music (non-wind/brass) is also permitted for funerals/post-funeral rites held at permitted indoor/outdoor third-party premises. ROs may also be subject to other safe management measures as stipulated by the premises owner.

13This measure applies to children 12 years and below (i.e. born in and after 2009).

14This total cap is the combined number of persons participating in the various permitted activities (excluding congregational and other worship services) on the premises at any one time, excluding religious and supporting workers. Respective caps on the individual activities will continue to apply.

15Refer to: https://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19/requirements-for-safe-management-measures.

16If cross-deployment cannot be avoided (e.g. due to the nature of the job), additional safeguards must be taken to minimise the risk of cross-infection (e.g. systems are in place to ensure no direct contact with the cross-deployed personnel). ROs will be required to demonstrate that cross-deployment or interaction between employees is critical for business operations, when requested by MOM or MCCY.

17To help ease the transition, scanning of barcodes on personal IDs will be retained until 31 May 2021.

Last updated on 23 November 2021