Heightened alert: 4 socially distanced things to do on 22 & 23 May 2021

We are well into our first week of Singapore’s phase 2 (heightened alert). With Covid-19 cases on the rise once more, it is pertinent that we stay vigilant. With the new restrictions came a whole lot of changes – no dining in at food outlets, social gatherings to be capped at two, operating capacity of attractions to be reduced to 25 per cent, and so on.

The key is to act responsibly, as well as keep yourself and the people around you safe. Here are some activities that you can still partake in, all while adhering to safe distancing measures:

1. Changi Chapel and Museum

(Source: Changi Chapel and Museum / Facebook)

First opened in 2001, the Changi Chapel and Museum pays tribute to those who went through the tribulations of World War II. The museum closed in 2018 for redevelopment, and reopened on 19 May – with this year marking the 76th anniversary of the Japanese surrender.

The museum is housed in a location that used to play host to around 10,000 mostly British and American prisoners of war. Make your way through eight different galleries, which house more than 100 artefacts. Take a look at items such as a diary, a Kodak camera, and handmade toothbrushes that once belonged to the internees that stayed at the old Changi Prison Camp. About one-third of these items were donated or loaned from the families of these internees, many of whom reside abroad. Gain insight into the lives of the internees, and relive the tumultuous challenges they had to face – and revel in the resulting stories that are incredibly rich in history. 

Especially during the opening weekend of 22 and 23 May, you can look forward to storytelling sessions, curated guided tours, and a recorded orchestral performance. The museum and chapel will be open from 9.30am to 5.30pm, with the last admission at 4.30pm. Admission is free this weekend; do book your time slots online in accordance to the new regulations.  

2. Singapore Mental Health Film Festival

(Source : Singapore Mental Health Film Festival / Facebook)

In times like these, it is important for us to band together and stay resilient. But, sometimes we forget the importance of self-care, and often neglect taking some time out for ourselves. Aptly, mental health awareness takes priority this month with the Singapore Mental Health Film Festival (SMHFF). Previously only hosted on location, this year’s rendition sees a hybrid version, where events will be held both on-site and online. 

Partake in the viewing of nine feature films, and nine short films; and engage in nine panel conversations, as well as participate in eight workshops. The various events will delve into otherwise difficult topics such as suicide, childhood trauma, addiction and dementia. In relation to the ongoing pandemic, the festival will also examine the effects of the situation on mental health, and what can be done to help ourselves and the individuals around us.

One film to look out for is Happiness (2016), a Hong Kong film that examines the feelings and struggles of an individual after his mother’s passing. It takes a look at his healing process, which also involves the blossoming of a friendship with a woman afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. This film goes hand in hand with one of the panel discussions that talks about constructing a dementia-inclusive society.

Running from 22 to 30 May, the festival’s tickets can be bought on their website

[READ: Forging a dementia-friendly and inclusive community]

3. National Museum of Singapore

(Source: National Museum of Singapore)

Hari Raya arrived not too long ago but that does not mean that the festivities have to stop! The celebrations are still ongoing at the National Museum of Singapore, which is offering a slew of family-friendly activities. 

Some events have been put on hold, but you can still tune into the livestreams of various performances. Dikir Raya – A Dikir Barat Showcase will be livestreamed on the National Museum’s Facebook page at 4pm on 22 May, and will be hosted by Kelana Purba, an award-winning group. At 1pm, tune into the A Lighter Side of History: Documenting a Reclusive Ramadan to delve into the stories and challenges that Muslims faced when trying to celebrate Hari Raya in the midst of the circuit breaker. At the end of both shows, viewers can even participate in a quiz for a chance to win a souvenir.

4. Hello From the Wild Side

(Source: Wildlife Reserves Singapore)

If, however, you prefer to just stay at home, the Singapore Zoo and River Safari invite you to say ‘hello’ to their animals from behind a screen. The event boasts a variety of live interactive virtual experiences, where you can meet the animals and their keepers.

The Zoo Explained! event kickstarts on 22 May at 10am, where you can seize the chance to meet a group of cheeky emperor tamarins, as well as go behind the scenes with their keepers. You will also be able to virtually join their feeding and enrichment activities. A fun thing to check out would be the personalised one-minute video message by one of their animal stars. Think: a birthday song by Amigo, a yellow-naped Amazon; or a romantic snapshot by Ben and Bella, a pair of African penguins. 

The best part? All contributions will go towards the care of the animals and conservation efforts. Each session will be conducted in English, and will cost S$10 each. Bookmark their website for more information.

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