Now Singapore steps out of full lockdown mode

South-East Asia’s regional trading and financial hub Singapore has confirmed that from next month the city-state will resume hosting business events of up to 250 attendees. This is part of the Singapore’s publicised plan to a ‘safe and gradual’ resumption of economic activities.

And the news follows Singapore’s decision to unilaterally lift travel restrictions, allowing – as a first step - people travelling from Brunei and New Zealand to enter the country.

Applications to travel from Brunei and New Zealand opened a week ago and according to the Straits Times almost 150 have been received. The visitors travel under a Singapore-initiated scheme called the Air Travel Pass Scheme, which allows for all forms of short-term travel, including leisure travel.

This is in contrast to reciprocal ‘green lane’ arrangements between Singapore and countries like South Korea and a number of Chinese provinces, which are usually for essential business and official travel, details of which can be found here.

Singapore’s actions are significant because the government’s response to the coronavirus became something of an election issue and the country’s prime minister acknowledged earlier this month that there had been important missteps.

In particular Singapore found it challenging to stop the spread of infections among its migrant worker community housed in close, living quarters. For many in Singapore it was the first time they had had to confront the pandemic-friendly reality of how the workers are expected to live.

As a result the country has more than 57,000 cases versus the nearly 5000 cases in Hong Kong with which the ‘Lion City’ is often compared.

The Straits Times newspaper compiled this 7-minute review of the sights and sounds of an election held against the backdrop of coronavirus and unprecedented disruption to Singapore’s economic prospects. The ruling People’s Action Party won their 15th consecutive term in office.

On their official Twitter feed Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said they would start accepting applications for organisers to pilot events of up to 250 attendees from 1 October 2020.

Organisers who apply for ‘pilot events’ with up to 250 attendees must demonstrate their ability to implement ‘Safe Management Measures’ to meet a set of health and safety outcomes.

Among the already-confirmed pilot events is the Singapore International Energy Week Conference, taking place as a hybrid event between October 26-30.

STB chief executive, Keith Tan, said the safe and gradual resumption of events will ‘safeguard jobs and core capabilities’.

‘It will also help those in related sectors such as hospitality and aviation,’ Tan said.

‘Public health and safety remain our utmost priority, and we have worked closely with the industry to create strict protocols and develop new ways of organising events.

‘These pilot events and solutions will help Singapore lead the way as a safe, trusted and innovative destination for MICE events.’

The decision to accept applications of 250 pax events comes on the back of STB’s Safe Business Events Framework for business events of up to 50 attendees, which was first announced in July 2020.

As more insights and data are obtained through the upcoming pilot events, STB will work with the industry to adapt and adjust its protocols for safe business events.


©Photos by Mariana Alvarado

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Charlie Charters is a former rugby union official and sports marketing executive turned thriller writer whose debut book Bolt Action was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2010.
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