Singapore

Singapore opens travel bubble as it prepares for Davos

Singapore opens travel bubble as it prepares for Davos


SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore will allow a limited number of business, official and other “high economic value” travelers from around the world on “bubble” arrangements, offering a glimpse at what visitors to this year’s relocated Davos summit might expect. What.

FILE PHOTO: A cordoned-off area of ​​Merlion Park is seen during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore, May 27, 2020.REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) will make its Asian debut in May after relocating from its old home in the Swiss ski resort of Davos due to coronavirus safety concerns.

Singapore’s borders were closed for much of 2020 as part of strict rules to prevent a virus still raging around the world, and it faces the prospect of staging an event that normally draws thousands of people five months later challenge.

The new arrangement, which will begin in late January, will see visitors quarantined to prevent COVID-19 infection, while allowing people from abroad and in Singapore to meet safely during stays of up to 14 days.

Announcing the plan on Tuesday, Singapore’s Trade Minister Chan Chun Sing said that while it was not specifically designed for the WEF, the arrangement would provide lessons on how to manage such a large event.

Visitors will be tested regularly, must stay in a five-person “bubble” at the quarantine facility, carry contact tracing equipment and meet other guests and Singaporeans only in rooms with floor-to-ceiling partitions, authorities said.

Singapore already has some arrangements with certain countries restricting travel, but this is the first to open up to global tourists.

The Southeast Asian island nation has reported just a handful of local coronavirus cases in the past two months and has won praise, including from the World Health Organization, for its handling of the outbreak.

The first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine will arrive in Singapore by the end of this year, and authorities expect there will be enough vaccine for the country’s 5.7 million population by the third quarter of 2021.

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A pilot short-term accommodation facility being built at a convention center near the airport could be one of the venues for WEF travelers.

The four-star accommodation will have separate entrances, exits and ventilation systems for guests and Singaporean tourists, said state investor Temasek, which will launch the project in the first quarter.

Guests will be able to meet local counterparts or other guests in specially designed conference rooms with airtight glass panels to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Meals will be delivered to shelves installed outside guest rooms, staff will have to undergo routine testing, and the facility will be equipped with automated systems to trace contacts and test wastewater for early detection of coronavirus infections.

When completed in mid-2021, the facility will have more than 1,300 guest rooms and approximately 340 meeting rooms. Trade Minister Chan said the venue alone might not be enough to host the WEF, but side meetings could be held during the event.

“This is a good template for the World Economic Forum, despite the restrictions on infection risk and the opportunity costs of regular testing and being confined to specific areas or locations,” said Prem Shamdasani of the National University of Singapore Business School.

Edited by John Geddie, Robert Birsel and Alex Richardson



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