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This year’s first day of the Qing Ming Festival was surprisingly calm, with only a few big crowds at the Mandai Columbarium.

When The Straits Times visited at about 1pm yesterday, each floor of the eight blocks had about 10 people or less, with many families well spread out and no large numbers of people.

Mandai Columbarium's Qing Ming

At about 2.30pm, however, there was a crowd at Block I, with officers from the National Environment Agency (NEA) asking tourists to properly put on their masks.Nevertheless, the people at the Columbarium said that the situation was different this year, as there were many families walking paths, particularly on the very first day of the Chinese Festival of the Graves.

The numbers there this year shocked Mr Wilis Ho, 49, who was with his son.He said: “It used to be very packed with big groups of people moving around. Social distancing would definitely be a problem in previous years.”Because of the confusion caused by the rise in infections, several people, including Mr. Ho, did not visit the columbarium last year.

Mr. Ho, who works in the IT sector, said that the crowd-control systems placed in place this year have significantly aided in holding the number of visitors to a minimum.

According to the NEA, visitors driving to Mandai Columbarium during peak hours, such as weekends, must register their vehicles with valid e-appointments.

It is the first time such a device has been applied.

Mandai Columbarium's Qing Min

Visitors were also instructed to minimize the family size of a household by two individuals and not crowd around the columbarium prayer and joss paper.

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In a Facebook post yesterday, Heng Swee Keat Deputy Prime Minister said citizens told him they were offering prayers at home during his market walkout on Saturday.He added: “They were buying incense and joss paper, and also marketing to prepare a spread of home-cooked food offerings.”The majority of those who visited the Mandai Columbarium yesterday were satisfied with the new structure and thought that safety monitoring initiatives could proceed after Covid-19. They said that in previous years, there was no room to travel and families were crammed together in the small corridors.

Yap Teck Khim, 53, a sales executive who carpooled with his siblings to the facility, said: “We reserved a time slot as soon as they were available because we anticipated large crowds. Yet I am relieved that the encounter was so orderly. This method, I believe, should be preserved because it assists in the management of the people here.”

Source: The Straits Times

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