SINGAPORE: Singapore will launch a new segregated travel lane aimed at business travellers on short-term stays, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing announced on Tuesday (Dec 15).
The travel lane, or the Connect@Singapore initiative, will be open to a “limited number” of business, official and high economic value travellers from all countries who are staying in Singapore for up to 14 days, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in a separate press release.
Applications for the segregated travel lane will open in the middle of January 2021, and Singapore can expect the first travellers to arrive from the second half of January, it added.
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“Global travel, especially global business travel has been severely impacted by the need for quarantine measures, and many people in different countries cannot meet each other for business activities, said Mr Chan in an online media conference.
“The idea is for business people to come into Singapore for up to a period of 14 days. During these 14 days, they will undergo the necessary routine medical checks to provide themselves the assurance that they are safe and also to provide the assurance to their meeting partners that they are safe.”
For their whole stay, travellers under the segregated travel lane will be housed within dedicated facilities, undergo regular testing and observe all prevailing safe management measures, said MTI.
The travellers will have to stay within their pre-declared travel group of up to five travellers within the segregated facility, and are not allowed to mingle with other travellers. They will also have to abide by all prevailing national safe management measures, and use Trace Together and Safe Entry.
At the segregated facilities, the travellers will be able to conduct meetings with local visitors and with other traveller groups with safe management measures in place to separate segregated travel lane travellers from other individuals, said MTI.
“For example, while travellers will be allowed to meet with local visitors, there will be floor-to-ceiling dividers separating travellers from local visitors,” the ministry added.
Travellers will also have to present a valid negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before leaving their home country, and take another PCR test after arriving in Singapore.
While in Singapore, they will take antigen rapid tests on days 3, 5, 7 and 11 after their arrival while they stay in Singapore.
MTI has been working with Connect@Changi on its possible appointment as a segregation facility under the segregated travel lane.
More segregated facilities will be appointed in the next few weeks, said MTI. Other operators interested in serving as a segregated facility can submit their proposals through the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) by Dec 31, with more information on the application to be released by STB soon.
In a separate press release, Temasek announced the development of a short-stay facility that would facilitate the business exchanges between international travellers and Singapore residents.
Located at Singapore EXPO Halls 7 and 8, the first phase of the Connect@Changi pilot short-stay facility will launch in the first quarter of 2021, said Temasek.
The first phase will see more than 670 premium guest rooms and about 170 meeting rooms that accommodate small to large meetings of about four to 22 attendees. When fully constructed in mid-2021, the facility will have more than 1,300 guest rooms and about 340 meeting rooms, it said.
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Connect@Changi is developed by a Singapore consortium led by Temasek, made up of The Ascott Limited, Changi Airport Group, Sheares Healthcare Group, SingEx and Surbana Jurong.
“Meticulous protocols and procedures” will be in place to ensure the safety of guests and employees, said Temasek. Contact between guests and frontline staff will be minimised, with self-service meeting rooms and no-contact meal delivery.
Entrances, exits and ventilation systems for both guests and Singapore-based visitors will also be separated, and travellers can meet Singapore-based individuals and travellers from other groups in meeting rooms outfitted with air-tight glass panels.
“There are separate facilities for checking in passengers and checking out with passengers so that all the way through from the time they clear immigration at the airport, until the time they are in their rooms, the passengers are kept segregated as well. So there's been a great emphasis on the safety aspect,” said Temasek senior managing director Alan Thompson at a media briefing on Tuesday.
About 15 per cent of daily travellers to Singapore are business travellers, and a “large percentage” of those stay five days or less, he added. “So we believe that a facility of this nature will cater to the needs of a very large number of the business travellers who do come to Singapore.”
“If you have a look at the composition of business travellers to Singapore, probably more than half of those are coming from countries in the region where currently there's still a fairly high incidence rate of COVID-19,” said Mr Thompson, adding that some multinational companies have already expressed interest in using the facility for regional meetings.
“So we do think that these are travellers who have in the past travelled to Singapore to do business and have a desire to continue doing that; and creating a facility like this where there is no inconvenience for them … would do this.”
The room charges at the Connect@Changi for a stay under three days start from about S$390 per night for an Executive room and S$430 per night for a Premier room. This includes the cost of testing, three meals per day and transfer from and to the airport, said Ms Judy Wong, deputy country general manager of The Ascott Limited.