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Tenants in talks with Jewel Changi Airport for assistance to tide over temporary closure

Changi Airport has become Singapore's largest active COVID-19 cluster, prompting a 14-day closure to the public.

Tenants in talks with Jewel Changi Airport for assistance to tide over temporary closure

Jewel Changi Airport, where F&B business have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. (Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: Jewel Changi Airport said its tenants will get support, including rental assistance, to help them cope with the two-week closure that started on Thursday (May 13).

Jewel, as well as terminals 1 and 3, are closed to the public amid a rise in the number of cases linked to the airport. Authorities had begun special testing operations for workers there.

READ: Jewel Changi Airport, Terminals 1 and 3 to be closed to public as COVID-19 testing continues

“Changi Airport Group is working with tenants in the terminals to minimise the impact of the temporary closure on their staff and operations, including rental waivers for the period of the closure," it said in response to queries. 

"Jewel Changi Airport will also provide support measures including rental assistance to help its tenants during the closure."

A few tenants told CNA over email that they have been in touch with Jewel Changi Airport to get assistance.

Jewel Changi Airport had “proactively reached out to offer rebates on rent” for the two-week closure period, said Mr Edwin Lim, director of gelato shop Birds of Paradise.

“In Good Company and Birds of Paradise Gelato Boutique, being collaborators at the premises, continue to operate our stores at other locations. Each brand also continues to operate our online stores,” he added.  

At Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory, which has another outlet at Raffles City, the company is “currently in communication” with Jewel Changi Airport. 

“We believe that they will do what they can to aid us, as well as fellow Jewel tenants. We will continue to maintain an open channel of communication with (them) to seek goodwill assistance,” the management told CNA. 

All workers from the Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory at Jewel have tested negative for COVID-19, having received the results on May 13, the management added. 

READ: Group sizes down from 5 to 2, dining-in suspended as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures

Rich & Good Cake Shop, however, has not heard from Jewel Changi Airport when it responded to CNA's queries on Friday. 

“We will definitely be severely impacted, as we have staff and a central kitchen to support. Our central kitchen bakes solely to supply our Jewel outlet, and to lose revenue from that outlet due to COVID-19 closures two years in a row is very damaging for our business,” said Ms Jerelyn Foo, the company’s media and operations manager.

“We will be opening our other outlet at Kandahar Street on Sundays and public holidays during these two weeks to cater to the demand."

The cake shop, she added, had “minimal staff” at the Jewel outlet, so they were able to “clear the swab test quickly”. 

Men's grooming salon Sultans of Shave said even before the closure, business has already been slower at their Jewel outlet in the past few months.

It now has no choice but to cancel all appointments at Jewel.

“Our staff at Jewel will undergo mandatory swab tests and have been advised to opt in to the vaccination plan for all personnel working in Changi Airport. We have also arranged for the outlet to be cleaned and sanitised more frequently,” said its group marketing executive Cin Yi.  

READ: Additional COVID-19 antigen rapid testing to be rolled out for people with symptoms

This time last year, Singapore was in a COVID-19 "circuit breaker" when social gatherings were not allowed among other restrictions. 

Amid the recent rise in community cases, authorities announced new measures on Friday, including a reduction in the size of group gatherings from five people to two. Dining in will not be allowed from May 16 through Jun 13.

COVID-19 TESTING IN THE CHANGI AIRPORT CLUSTER 

The Changi Airport COVID-19 cluster is currently Singapore's largest active cluster, with 59 cases as of Friday.

About 20 of the infections are "congregated" around one zone - an area that receives travellers from higher-risk regions, including South Asia, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday.

“That zone is our equivalent of Ward 9D, like Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)," said Mr Ong, referring to Singapore's second-largest COVID-19 cluster.

“And from that zone, workers go have their lunch, go have their meals at the Terminal 3 Basement 2 commercial areas and the food court, and we suspect from there, it transmitted to members of the public that visited the place.” 

READ: First 20 Changi Airport COVID-19 cases from zone that receives arrivals from higher-risk countries: Ong Ye Kung

Changi Airport Group (CAG) said last week that about 9,000 workers from Terminal 1, Terminal 3 and Jewel Changi Airport will undergo COVID-19 testing. 

Mr Ong said on Friday that about 500 workers from Jewel have been swabbed, with all of them testing negative for COVID-19.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and CAG also urged all airport workers as well as employees working at Jewel Changi Airport to “refrain from going out except for essential work or activities for the next 14 days or until they have been tested negative for COVID-19”. 

In addition, these workers should not be redeployed to other workplaces or outlets during this period, they added. Workers at the airport will also be segregated according to higher-risk and lower-risk zones.

“We are cautiously hopeful that the airport worker cluster, just the worker cluster, hopefully can be contained,” said Mr Ong.

Source: CNA/hm(gs)

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