With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, funeral arrangements and services have been severely affected. The enforcement of safe distancing measures means there won’t be large gatherings in funeral services as it used to be before. While the Circuit Breaker measures have eased, the current Phase 2 of Singapore’s Safe Re-opening plan means there are still rules to adhere to, even when it comes to attending to death-related matters.
Handling the deceased with Covid-19 infection
Earlier this year, NEA (National Environment Agency) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health issued new guidelines on the handling of bodies infected with Covid-19. According to the joint circular, collection, placing in caskets, and transportation of a body for cremation or burial will only be handled by funeral companies whose employees have received training on basic infection control.
The deceased’s next-of-kin will be notified by the hospital on the list of funeral companies that are qualified to handle bodies infected with Covid-19. The deceased will be double-bagged and placed in a hermetically sealed coffin. Embalming will not be permitted.
Measures for wakes and funeral services
NEA has also issued guidelines to companies that offer funeral services in Singapore for precautionary measures at funerals and wakes. These include the following:
- Limiting the number of attendees during a wake to a maximum of 20 at any one time to observe the safe distance directive.
- Keeping funeral processions to no more than 20 people (excluding funeral and religious employees)
- All attendees should wear a mask at all times and maintain at least one metre distance from other individuals.
- If the one-metre rule is not feasible, it can be enforced between groups. Each group can comprise of only 5 persons maximum and there can be no mixing between groups. On that same note, table and chairs should only accommodate no more than 5 persons. Every chair from each table must be arranged at least one metre away from other chairs in another table.
- Interactions should be kept minimal and brief. No post-event reception with food and/or beverages is allowed.
- Entertainment options such as live bands, singing groups, live music and musical performances are not permitted during the funeral event.
Measures for columbaria and crematoriums
From 19 June 2020 onwards, visitors are allowed at the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery and all government-managed columbaria (Yishun, Mandai and Choa Chu Kang). For each burial or cremation application at government-managed facilities, NEA will issue 20 entry passes for visitors.
You are also expected to observe the standard public health guidelines of keeping your mask on and keeping a distance of at least one metre away from others. For families visiting in groups, there should not be more than 5 persons in a group. Avoid prolonging your stay and always practice good hygiene habits, such as using a hand sanitiser, regularly washing your hands and binning your litter properly.