KUCHING: Covid-19 has not only disrupted the livelihood of the people but has also become a wedding crasher.
Since the onset of the pandemic, many confirmed weddings had to be put on hold, and couples had to constantly change their wedding dates as weddings were not allowed in order to curb the spread of the virus.
Thus, planning a wedding during the Covid-19 pandemic can be a big challenge and extremely stressful for many couples.
However, Christian churches in the state have laid out standard operating procedures (SOPs) for weddings such as limited number of people in attendance during the wedding with the approval of the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor).
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching, Most Reverend Simon Poh acknowledged it was a difficult time for marriages now.
“This is especially when one of the couple needs to fly in from outside Sarawak. Sometimes the parents are unable to be at the wedding because of inter-district travel restrictions.
“In addition, during this conditional movement control order (CMCO) when dine-in is not allowed, this also means that there is no wedding reception in a restaurant,” he said.
Despite that, he said all Catholic parishes were available to assist couples to arrange their marriages in church.
“In a way, despite the Covid-19 restrictions, ultimately a church blessing means that the couple receives the blessing of God as husband and wife to begin a new life together,” he said.
“I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to many couples, parents and the photographers for their understanding, especially in complying with the required standard operating procedures (SOPs) as we ensure the safety of everyone in church and in Sarawak,” he said.
Poh said before Covid-19, St. Joseph’s Cathedral registered a total of 266 weddings.
“Last year because of Covid-19, we managed to assist with 113 marriages. From Jan to May this year, we have 33 marriages,” he said.
He added many of the couples had to postpone many times their marriages which they planned last year.
Asked if an online wedding would be possible, Poh said a wedding needed to be attended in person with another person.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral’s vice rector Father Galvin Ngumbang said the cathedral still offered the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to couples who intended to get married this year.
“It is advisable that these couples to come to the parish office to book their wedding day at least six months prior after having attended the marriage preparation course organised by any Roman Catholic parish,” he said.
Ngumbang added during the Covid-19 pandemic, the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony strictly adhered to the SOPs issued by Unifor.
“Currently, we are following the SOPs issued on March 1, 2020 which restrict the number of persons in the church to a maximum of 12 persons in red zone areas or 20 persons in other zones.
“Other SOPs include the wearing of masks, physical distancing and the registration of guests on the MySejahtera mobile app for contact tracing purposes,” he said.
To help couples prepare for their lifelong commitment in marriage, Ngumbang said St. Joseph’s Cathedral still organised the marriage preparation courses. The next course will be on June 12, 13, 19 and 20. There will be another course on September 11, 12, 18 and 19.