Singapore will start a new travel lane for ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂbusiness, official and high economic value travelersÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ that will allow people to come to the city-state without quarantine for short-term stays and reside in a dedicated ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂbubbleÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ facility near the airport.
The travel lane, announced by Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday, builds on SingaporeÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs efforts to reopen its borders in a controlled manner.
The Southeast Asian nation, which has largely beaten back the coronavirus, announced Monday that it will progress to the third and final phase of its national Covid-19 response strategy on Dec. 28.
SingaporeÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs small and open economy is largely dependent upon the tourist and service sectors for growth.
To that end, itÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs been trying to reopen its borders by establishing green lanes and special travel arrangements with countries where the virus is also under control, like New Zealand and Australia.
Authorities are also keen to position Singapore as a prime spot for meetings, events, conferences and exhibitions and the new dedicated ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂbubbleÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ facility near Changi Airport will be a big part of that.
Earlier this month it was revealed that the World Economic Forum has held preliminary talks with officials in Singapore about relocating its high-profile Davos annual meeting to the city-state.
Applications for the new travel lane will open next month. People from all countries can apply but must adhere to the travel laneÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs strict health and testing protocols.
For the duration of their up to 14-day stay, visitors will be housed in a ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂbubbleÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ within a dedicated facility, undergo testing upon arrival and on days three, five, seven and 11, and must observe all prevailing safe management measures.
They will be able to conduct meetings with local visitors and with other segregated travel lane groups at the facility, however if theyÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂre meeting with locals, travelers will need to remain behind floor-to-ceiling dividers.
Air-tight panels, vending machines
SingaporeÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs state investment firm Temasek Holdings on Tuesday outlined the short-stay facility that will support such safe business exchanges.
Called [email protected], the initiative also involves The Ascott and Sheares Healthcare Group, and will be located at the Singapore EXPO, about a five-minute drive from the airport.
ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂIdeally, you would like to have people free to move around, do what they want to do and spend where they want to,ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ but this is a ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂgood alternative optionÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ as we try to stamp out the virus, Temasek Senior Managing Director Alan Thompson said at a media briefing Tuesday.
ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂThis is an attempt to begin to open up and reinvigorate the air travel and hospitality sectors in Singapore.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ
[email protected] will have more than 670 guestrooms and almost 170 meeting rooms that each can accommodate from four to 22 attendees.
When fully constructed in mid-2021, the facility will include more than 1,300 guestrooms and about 340 meeting rooms.
The arrangement is primarily aimed at official and multinational business meetings, as well as medical consultations, private banking transactions and document signings or legal consultations. Its target audience is mainly short-term visitors who donÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂt intend to stay longer than a few days.
ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂGuests can meet their local counterparts or other guests from the region safely in specially designed meeting rooms outfitted with air-tight glass panels, reducing the risk of transmission,ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ Temasek said in a statement.
ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂEntrances, exits and ventilation systems for both guests and Singapore-based visitors are separatedÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ and there will be ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂa rigorous Covid-19 testing regime for guest travelers before and throughout their stay, as well as prior to departing the facility for their home countries.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ
Meals will be delivered to pre-installed shelves outside guest rooms, and guests can also opt for additional food and beverage options via vending machines.
A living laboratory
Singapore had been developing the idea months before the World Economic Forum news, Chan said during a separate briefing Tuesday.
ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂWeÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂre now in discussions with the World Economic Forum on logistical arrangements,ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ he said, adding that he didnÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂt think the Changi facility would be sufficient in terms of the number of meeting rooms required for such a large event.
Temasek also added that as a ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂliving laboratory, [email protected] will feature an array of novel Covid-19 management strategies, such as wastewater testing for early detection, latest rapid point-of-care tests to complement established lab-based polymerase chain reaction tests, and automated contact tracing within the facility to enable rapid and precise identification of individuals.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ
ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂIf successful, these strategies can be deployed at existing facilities elsewhere, such as hotels, to strengthen and boost SingaporeÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs pandemic response,ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ the investment firm said.
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