Columbarium operators reminded of deadline for applying for specified instruments

     The Government today (March 28) reminded operators of pre-cut-off columbaria who intend to apply for specified instruments (i.e. licence, exemption or temporary suspension of liability (TSOL)) to submit applications to the Private Columbaria Licensing Board by tomorrow (March 29) at the latest.
     Under the Private Columbaria Ordinance, a specified instrument must be obtained for operating a columbarium, except during the grace period as applicable. Any person who operates, keeps, manages or in any other way has control of a columbarium without any specified instrument commits an offence.
     If members of the public need to keep ashes in niches purchased in the past, a government spokesman explained that the Government has not prohibited the keeping of "new sets of ashes" during the grace period in a private columbarium that was in operation immediately before the enactment of the Ordinance. However, the columbarium will need to meet the requirements (including the provisions about the ash interment quantity) of the Ordinance before the TSOL can be issued.
     In July last year, the Government issued a letter to the columbarium operators, making clear that they should explain to the consumers that if the families concerned still choose to keep "new sets of ashes" in their niches during the grace period, the ashes should be kept in a temporary manner (i.e. sealing the niches with a plaque is not recommended).
     The families concerned may consider applying for the temporary storage facilities provided by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) for keeping the ashes temporarily. If families need to pay tribute to the deceased, they may use the existing facilities of the nearby columbaria.
      If members of the public have ashes interred in niches managed by the FEHD or the Board of Management of the Chinese Permanent Cemeteries, they may apply for co-location of additional sets of ashes in such niches. In addition, they may consider measures such as applying for niches in private cemeteries, temporarily keeping ashes at home or adopting green burial.
      According to the Ordinance, a pre-cut-off columbarium is a columbarium that was in operation, and in which ashes were interred in niches, immediately before the cut-off time, i.e. 8am on June 18, 2014. For a columbarium that was in operation immediately before the enactment date, the grace period will end (i) upon expiry on March 29, 2018; or (ii) at the time when the application of a TSOL is finally disposed of or withdrawn, if the application is made by the expiry date of March 29, 2018.

Ends/Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Issued at HKT 19:36