Carry on with Church services, with appropriate precautions, Health Minister tells pastors
by Edric Sng // February 15, 2020, 10:03 am
Photo: William White/Unsplash.com
Churches can carry on with worship services, as long as precautionary measures are in place, the Government assured church leaders in a meeting on Friday, February 14, 2020.
About 40 people – more than half church leaders – were in attendance as Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu gave updates on the COVID-19 situation at the MCCY Building on Friday evening.
Mr Gan reiterated that there were no plans for Dorscon (risk assessment) level to go Red.
“I want to say categorically that we have no plans to go to Dorscon Red. So please help me stop these rumours going forward, so that we can focus our efforts in dealing with our patients, and support them,” he said in an earlier press conference reported by the Straits Times.
Worship services may continue, but with appropriate precautionary measures.
As such, churches should be prepared to operate under the present Dorscon Orange level for a few more months, the Government said. Some cases of COVID-19 have been reported in churches, including Life Church and Missions, Paya Lebar Methodist Church, and Grace Assembly of God.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) advises that worship services may continue, but with appropriate precautionary measures. As churches are places where large numbers of congregants come together to worship, it is important to put in place precautionary measures and emphasise personal hygiene practices to reduce the risk of transmission,” the MOH said in a press release following the meeting.
The Ministers thanked the church leaders for their understanding, noting that many churches have already instituted measures to protect their congregations. These include advisories to members, temperature screening, as well as suspending non-essential events.
“MOH advises that those who are unwell – including congregants and church workers – should consult a doctor immediately and not go to church. The most effective method to prevent transmission remains good personal hygiene of regular hand washing with soap and water, and to avoid touching our face unnecessarily,” said the ministry.
The Ministers also suggested other measures that churches can consider adopting, including:
• Increasing the frequency of cleaning of commonly used areas
• Where possible, minimising contact with common items, such as Communion trays and offering bags
• Maintaining good ventilation at halls and other event venues
• Encouraging members to stick to one service timing to ease contact tracing if needed
• Offering more service timings to reduce the size of any individual assembly. The Government did not suggest a “magic number” for an ideal or maximum size of an attendance.
The Government shared its stance clearly with us, and assured us that we should move ahead with our worship services.
A Senior Pastor at the meeting – which also included the heads of the mainline denominations and heads of megachurches in Singapore – said the dialogue was fruitful. He felt the posture on the part of both Church and Government was to work together amid difficult circumstances.
Many of the other churches represented there wanted to continue with their worship services, he noted.
“I am thankful for our able and open Government. They shared their stance clearly with us, and assured us that we should move ahead with our worship services, which are the key gathering in the Church,” the Senior Pastor told Salt&Light.