By Asia Samachar Team | SINGAPORE |
Singapore gurdwaras will cancel all congregational prayers and gatherings, effective tomorrow (27 March), in line with the government’s efforts to step us measures to combat Covid-19.
In a joint meeting yesterday, it was decided that gurdwaras will suspend all programmes, including family sponsored and group programs, until 30 April.
Gurdwaras would remain open for private worship limited to 10 people at any one time, according to a statement by the Co-ordinating Council of Sikh Institutions (CCSI).
The new measures took into account the latest Singapore Covid-19 directive to suspend all religious services and congregations. This brings the measures one step closer to the Malaysian gurdwaras which have effectively closed all prayer sessions since March 18 as the neighbouring nation imposed a partial lockdown nationwide to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“The Sangat has been very supportive as they understand the need to slow the spread,” said Inderjit Singh, Singapore entrepreneur and former parliamentarian, told Asia Samachar, who chaired the CCSI meeting.
In its previous meeting on 16 Feb, CCSI had advised gurdwaras to institute a number of measures, but stopped short of cancelling programmes.
In a statement on Tuesday (24 March), Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) said the recent spike in imported cases signaled a new phase in its fight against Covid-19. In view of that, the multi-ministry taskforce had decided to enforce ‘stricter measures’ that included closure of entertainment venues and tuition centres.
For faith-based activities, the statement said: “All religious services and congregations will be suspended. Places of worship (e.g. temples, mosques, churches) may remain open for private worship and essential rites, subject to group sizes of 10 persons or fewer at any one time.”
In Singapore, the number of coronavirus patients aged between 20 and 29 has overtaken that of patients aged 60 and above to become the largest infected group, with most young adults having caught the bug overseas, primarily in Britain, reported the Straits Times.
In a Facebook entry, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat noted that the coronavirus outbreak will be with Singapore for many months to come and badged the Covid-19 global pandemic as the republic’s biggest challenge after the global financial crisis in 2008.
“Our resilience as a country, as a society, is being put to the test as we face our biggest challenge in more than a decade,” he said.
Heng, who is also Minister for Finance, will be present today to the Parliament a supplementary budget, called the Resilience Budget, intended to help to save jobs and support companies.
BELOW IS THE CCSI GUIDELINE IN FULL
GUIDELINES OF ADDITIONAL MEASURES AT ALL SIKH GURDWARAS TO MANAGE COVID- 19 SPREAD
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
The Coordinating Council of Sikh Institutions (CCSI) met on the 25th of March at 7pm to discuss the additional measures all Sikh Gurdwaras should take in light of the Government’s requirements announced on the 24th of March 2020.
Among other guidelines and requirements announced by the Government, and which we advise the Sikh Sangat to follow in the interest of the health and safety of all members of the public, the Government has spelt out requirements and guidelines for places of worship. This requirement is “To suspend religious services and congregations and limiting private worship and essential rites to 10 people”
At the CCSI meeting, we have come out with the following guidelines for all Sikh Gurdwaras in Singapore to follow, effective Friday 26th of March 2020 till 30th April 2020.
- All programmes will be suspended for the duration above, to cut down on mass gatherings in the Gurdwaras.
- All family sponsored and Group programs including but not limited to Akhand Paaths, Sukhmani Sahib programs will be suspended.
- The Gurdwara Sahibs will remain open for private worship but the number of Sangat allowed into the Gurdwara Sahibs will be limited to 10 people at any one time. Best to have a sign in and sign out mechanism to keep control of the numbers in the premises at any one time.
- All Gurdwaras will do temperature takings for all people who enter the Gurdwaras premises and record down details of the people for contact tracing.
- All Gurpurab celebrations and commemorations will be suspended.
- All Gurdwaras will continue to do Prakash, Nitnem, Asa Di War, Rehras, Kirtan Sohaila and Sukashan will be carried out by the staff daily. Gurdwaras and encouraged to do live streaming for Sangat to follow from home.
- Weddings will be either postponed or if the family decides to continue, the wedding party will only consist of the bride, bridegroom, their parents and the religious staff.
- All Istri Sat Satsang and any other outreach programs to be suspended.
- Langgar in the Gurdwaras premises will be suspended.
- We encourage Gurdwaras to institute “Packed Langgar’ services where possible and viable, but all should not compromise the rules of mass gatherings when doing so (See Annex A for Guidelines)
ANNEX A: Guidelines on Packed Langgar Distribution based on CCSI Meeting, 25th March 2020
For Gurdwaras, as far as possible, to continue to provide Packed Langgar as there is a need for individuals affected during this period. It is important to continue this Sewa in the spirit of service, and send a positive signal to the Sangat and Public. For Packed Langgar Gurdwaras are to refer to the following guidelines;
- Langgar to be cooked and packed with strict adherence to hygiene.
- Only Packed Langgar to be distributed and on a take-away basis. Individuals should not consume Packed Langgar within the Gurdwara.
- If possible, find ways to distribute Langgar without long queues forming and any crowding. If queues form, keep individuals separate with safe distancing within queues. Dispersed distribution points for Packed Langgar can also be set up to avoid queues.
- Gurdwaras to inform individuals and the public on specific time-periods for the distribution of Packed Langgar (recommended 2-hours for each meals, i.e., Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner). This follows food consumption guidelines in the case of fresh foods prepared as Packed Langgar.
- Gurdwaras can also try to assist individuals and families on stay at home notice by delivering Packed Langgar if there are available resources.
Malaysian frontliners in Covid-19 battle (Asia Samachar, 23 March 2020)
Covid-19: Shut gurdwaras now, urges British GP (Asia Samachar, 22 March 2020)
Gurdwaras to shutdown under Malaysia’s partial lockdown (Asia Samachar, 16 March 2020)
Singapore gurdwaras take measures to fight coronavirus (Asia Samachar, 16 Feb 2020)