Coronavirus: Can my children return to pre-school together, can siblings pray in place of worship from June 2?

The Church of St Alphonsus in Novena. In phase one, religious workers are not allowed to conduct religious rites and ceremonies in places of worship, except for marriage solemnisations and funeral-related activities. ST FILE PHOTO Pre-school children
Pre-school children may use face shields as an alternative to masks. PHOTO: COURTESY OF TEMASEK FOUNDATION
The Church of St Alphonsus in Novena. In phase one, religious workers are not allowed to conduct religious rites and ceremonies in places of worship, except for marriage solemnisations and funeral-related activities. ST FILE PHOTO Pre-school children
The Church of St Alphonsus in Novena. In phase one, religious workers are not allowed to conduct religious rites and ceremonies in places of worship, except for marriage solemnisations and funeral-related activities. ST FILE PHOTO

When Singapore's circuit breaker is lifted in stages from June 2, more businesses and activities will progressively be allowed to resume.

Last Tuesday, the Government said the reopening will be done in three phases.

Phase one, from June 2, will last at least four weeks as some restrictions are eased.

Phase two will last several months as even more measures are lifted. This will lead to phase three, which will be the "new normal" until a vaccine or treatment is found for Covid-19.

The Straits Times answers some questions about what you can do from June 2, when the first phase begins.

Q: My siblings and I live separately. Can I pray together with my siblings when we go to the church, temple or mosque?

A: No. Worshippers may pray individually or together only if they are members of the same household, when places of worship reopen for private worship from June 2.

Members of the same household refer to the people who live in the same residence as you, and not family members who live elsewhere.

A place of worship can have up to five households at any one time for private worship.

But these different households are not allowed to physically interact, and have to keep a safe distance from one another at all times.

Q: Can I ask religious workers to conduct religious rites (for example, baptism, communion, medium prayers, receiving holy ash) as part of private worship?

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A: No. Private worship refers only to prayers and other forms of worship that are performed by an individual worshipper alone or with his household group.

In phase one, religious workers are not allowed to conduct religious rites and ceremonies in places of worship, except for marriage solemnisations and funeral-related activities.

Q: Can home churches or temples resume services?

A: No. Places of worship that are located in residential units must remain closed to external visitors.

These are subject to the prevailing restrictions on homes and households, where visits and inter-mingling of households are not allowed, except for visits to parents or grandparents living elsewhere in phase one.​

Q: My children are enrolled in the same pre-school, but are in different cohorts and are thus due to return on different days. Can they return to pre-school together on the same day?

A: The phased return of children to pre-schools will help reduce crowding and ease children back into the school routine. Parents are encouraged to adhere to the schedule.

However, parents who have exceptional needs and require caregiving support ahead of the scheduled return dates may approach their child's pre-school to work out a suitable arrangement.

Q: I don't think my child will be able to keep his mask on throughout the day. Will he still be allowed to attend pre-school?

A: Children in pre-schools may use face shields as an alternative to masks. Pre-school staff will encourage and guide children above two years old to keep their masks or face shields on.

However, pre-schools have also been advised to be sensitive to their needs and exercise flexibility.

Q: I prefer to keep my pre-school child at home until the Covid-19 situation improves. Can I receive a waiver of the minimum one-day attendance requirement for applicable childcare subsidies?

A: Yes. Your pre-school should inform the Early Childhood Development Agency to seek a waiver of the attendance requirement for subsidies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2020, with the headline 'Only members from same household can pray together in place of worship'. Print Edition | Subscribe