SINGAPORE: Guests will not be allowed at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) on Pulau Tekong on enlistment day as part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"We will not be inviting guests to BMTC on enlistment day to avoid the presence of large crowds during enlistment," BMTC commander Colonel (COL) Pang Lead Shuan said in a video posted to the Singapore Army Facebook page on Monday (Mar 30).
"It has been our practice to welcome enlistees' loved ones to BMTC on their enlistment day to share this significant milestone. Unfortunately, due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, we have to adjust our enlistment day process," he added.
"These are difficult but necessary adjustments to safeguard the health and well-being of everyone."
Traditionally, enlistees' parents are shown around the island, including visiting their children's bunks at BMTC before sharing a meal with them in the cookhouse.
According to the video, there will be no change in the the reporting date and time for enlistees reporting to Selarang Camp before heading to BMTC on Pulau Tekong.
Parents will not be allowed to accompany their children or go beyond designated drop-off points.
The new measures come after BMTC said in February it was considering reducing the number of visitors on the island during the direct enlistment exercise in April.
Authorities have since implemented more stringent safety distancing measures to curb the outbreak.
COL Pang said enlistees will be administered in smaller groups to "reduce interaction and exposure".
"To further minimise the risk of transmission, enlistees will observe safe distancing in every step of the process. They will maintain a safe distance from one another in the ferry and in the auditorium, during meal times at the cookhouse, and when they queue to draw their equipment".
BMTC has also "enhanced hygiene and cleanliness" throughout its schools.
"Our commanders will be looking out for their soldiers to ensure their well-being," COL Pang added.
"Basic Military Training will be conducted with the same considerations. As the situation evolves, we will progressively review our measures and make necessary enhancements in alignment with the Ministry of Health's guidelines."
COL Pang acknowledged that the adjustments might cause inconvenience "and even dilute the NS experience".
"However, they are critical in our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19," he said.