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Unvaccinated people can continue attending private worship in groups of up to 5 from Feb 1

Unvaccinated worshipers will be able to continue attending private worship services beginning next month, when vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) for congregational and worship services will be expanded.

From Feb 1, vaccination-differentiated measures are needed for congregational and other worship services.

According to the updated guidelines for religious activities released on the Crisis Preparedness for Religious Organizations (CPRO) website on Tuesday by the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth (MCCY) and CPRO, they will be authorized to do so in groups of five with one religious worker (Jan 25).

The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on December 14, 2021, that all events, regardless of size, must install VDS by February 1 in order to proceed - a shift from the present norm, which grants exemptions to events with fewer than 50 attendees.

This implies that only people who have been completely vaccinated, are medically disqualified for Covid-19 vaccinations, or have recovered from the disease, as well as children aged 12 and under, are permitted to attend congregational and worship services.

At least two religious organizations have asked the government to create exceptions for people who have not been vaccinated. According to the new rules, "given the current authorized group size of five for social events, religious organizations can continue to allow one group of up to five individuals (regardless of vaccination status) to perform private worship at the place of worship at any one time."

These worshippers must wear masks at all times and can only engage with a fully vaccinated religious worker. A safe distance of at least 1m must be maintained between the group and the religious worker.

According to an MCCY representative, the private worship service can take place anywhere in the place of worship, as long as the group does not interact with those engaging in worship services or other religious activities that are subject to VDS.

"We do not usually hold private worship services for less than five people," said Dr Anthony Goh, head of the Methodist Church in Singapore Council on Communications, "but we will be cognizant of this rule if the necessity arises."

He stated that the churches have different architectural and operational layouts, and that each church would choose how best to rigorously adhere to the new requirements.

"We are grateful to the authorities for doing their utmost to understand and accommodate the community's requirements while guaranteeing the overall safety of all Singaporeans of all faiths," Dr Goh added.

VDS will be needed for congregational and other worship services involving up to 1,000 attendees beginning on February 1st, in addition to private worship.

They will have to be divided into zones with a capacity of no more than 100 worshipers apiece.

Additionally, beginning next month, any unmasked performers who sing or play wind instruments will be able to receive their mandatory negative Covid-19 test result either a MOH-approved test provider or a self-administered antigen fast test (ART).

A self-administered exam must be overseen on-site or virtually by the live performance organizer of the religious organization.

Religious organizations must preserve records of uncovered singers and those who play wind or brass instruments, including ART findings.


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