Most of us who observe the traditional Chinese festival, Qing Ming Festival, on 4 April would know that it is usually a day where we remember our ancestors. It is a day where we would head down to clean and sweep their graves, offer them food and burn joss papers.
Since it is a festival, many columbaria in Singapore will be filled with many looking to pay their respects to their ancestors.
And many would choose to either go between 21 March and 19 April instead of the actual day so as to avoid the crowd.
Qing Ming Festival Affected Badly as Columbaria Are Closed to Public On Weekends
As such, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has just announced on Wednesday, 25 March, that all government columbaria will be closed on the weekends and public holidays until 26 April.
NEA pointed out that the elderly and young children, especially, should avoid visiting any columbarium during this period, and that all visitors should try not to crowd around the prayer and joss paper burning areas.
If you do not comply with these restrictions, it is possible that these areas may just be closed off entirely.
So if you don’t want that to happen, please observe social responsibility and make sure that you do your part.
Which Columbaria Buildings Are Affected?
In case you didn’t know, the government-run columbaria are in:
- Choa Chu Kang
- 51 Choa Chu Kang Road, Chinese Cemetery Path 4
- Mandai Columbarium
- 300 Mandai Road, Singapore 779393
- Yishun Columbarium
- Yishun Ring Road, Singapore 768691
Do also take note that Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery has also put up an advisory notice with their own precautionary measures.
If you’re intending to participate in the prayers, you can do so by visiting their Facebook page on 4 April.
So When Can I Visit The Columbarium?
Since all government columbaria will be closed on the weekends and public holidays, you will still be able to visit them on weekdays.
However, those who choose to visit on weekdays will be advised to go in groups of four or fewer so as to ensure the safety of everyone. You are also warned to avoid peak hours like during the evenings where everyone gets off work.
And don’t worry, because these columbaria will be opened 24 hours on weekdays until 24 April so that everyone has more flexibility in arranging when to visit.
It should also be noted that you might be stopped from entering the columbarium building if NEA deems it to be unsafe and that there is a need for crowd control.
While you are in the building, please do make sure that you continue to practise social distancing where you should stand at least 1m apart from one another. Do also try to keep your visits short so that everyone has an equal chance to pay their respects, and also to ensure your own safety.
Is It Safe To Visit The Columbaria Buildings?
As mentioned above, if NEA deems it to be unsafe, visitors will be denied entry temporarily until the crowd inside the building has declined.
And if you’re worried about the sterilisation of the buildings during this period, there will be hand sanitisers placed at lift lobbies for you to use. Tables are also spaced out and contact surfaces will be wiped down more frequently by cleaning attendants to ensure that it is a clean environment.
NEA also said in their statement, “Visitors to our facilities are reminded to keep themselves and others around them safe by observing good hygiene habits, such as binning their litter and keeping the shared spaces clean.”
And if you’re really still worried about whether it is safe to visit the columbaria buildings during this period, it is probably best that you wait until the situation gets better before going. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.