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Connect@Singapore set up for business, official travellers into country for short-term stays

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SINGAPORE — Singapore is setting up a new Connect@Singapore initiative for a limited number of business, official and high economic value travellers from all countries, who are coming to Singapore for short-term stays of up to 14 days.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing announced the move in a media conference on Tuesday (15 December), as part of the Singapore government’s efforts to re-open the country’s borders in a controlled and safe manner.

“This is another step in our aim to re-establish ourselves as the business hub and a financial hub, where people can come and do business and be assured of their health and safety in Singapore,” he said at the media conference.

“This is one of the steps in our ongoing journey, and we will continue to test and pilot different ways of allowing business travelers to meet safely in Singapore.”

Connect@Singapore will complement other travel lanes that have already been established, such as the Reciprocal Green Lane, will help facilitate essential global business exchanges and support the revival of Singapore’s air hub status and hospitality sectors.

Applications will open in the middle of January 2021 and the first travellers will be able to arrive via the initiative from the second half of the same month.

Travellers will have to present a valid negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test prior to leaving their home country, and obtain a PCR test on arrival in Singapore.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (with white face mask) touring the meeting room facilities at Connect@Changi. (PHOTO: Nick Tan/Yahoo News Singapore)
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (with white face mask) touring the meeting room facilities at Connect@Changi. (PHOTO: Nick Tan/Yahoo News Singapore)

Strict protocols at segregated facilities

Connect@Singapore will have strict health and testing protocols to protect travellers and the local community. For the entire duration of their stay in Singapore, travellers under this initiative will be housed in a “bubble” within dedicated “segregated facilities”, undergo regular testing, and strictly observe all prevailing safe management measures (SMMs).

The travellers will be able to conduct meetings with local visitors and with other Connect@Singapore traveller groups (with SMMs in place) while in the segregated facilities.

They will also have to undergo Antigen Rapid Tests (ARTs) on days three, five, seven, and 11, insofar as they remain accommodated in the segregated facilities.

The segregated facilities will have to put in place measures to segregate Connect@Singapore travelers from individuals not under the initiative. For example, while travellers will be allowed to meet with local visitors, there will be floor-to-ceiling dividers separating travellers from local visitors.

Within the segregated facilities, travellers will have to stay within their pre-declared travel group of up to five travellers. They will not be allowed to mingle with other travellers outside of this group. They will also have to abide by all prevailing national SMMs, and use Trace Together and Safe Entry apps.

Staff serving Connect@Singapore travelers in these facilities will also undergo routine testing every 14 days.

“With enhanced testing capacities and capabilities in our testing and tracing technology, we are able to customise testing and tracing regimes according to the different groups of travelers, based on their different travel goals based on their different risk profiles,” Chan said at the media conference.

“This is the reason why we want to start up this initiative to allow the world to reconnect at Singapore, because different countries will continue to have different risk profiles. We should not let this hinder the normal functioning of a business meeting, and that's why we have come up with this concept.”

Artist impression of the courtyard of the Connect@Changi segregated facility pilot project for the new Connect@Singapore initiative.
Artist impression of the courtyard of the Connect@Changi segregated facility pilot project for the new Connect@Singapore initiative. (PHOTO: Connect@Changi)

Connect@Changi possibility as facility under STL

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has been working with business networking lounge Connect@Changi – located at the Singapore Expo and Max Atria – on its possible appointment as a facility under the Connect@Singapore initiative.

Connect@Changi – a pilot collaboration among Temasek and The Ascott Limited, Changi Airport Group, Sheares Healthcare Group, SingEx and Surbana Jurong – will incorporate COVID-19 testing regime for guest travellers, and deploy solutions to minimise contact between guests and frontline staff, such as self-service meeting rooms.

Guests can meet their local and international counterparts in specially-designed meeting rooms outfitted with air-tight glass panels. The lounge will also feature initiatives related to COVID-19, such as wastewater testing for early detection, latest rapid point-of-care tests to complement established lab-based tests, and automated contact tracing within the facility.

Construction is now underway for the first phase of the Connect@Changi project. Its initial phase, located at Singapore Expo Halls 7 and 8, involves building over 670 premium guest rooms and close to 170 meeting rooms that can accommodate a range of meeting sizes, from four to 22 attendees.

When fully constructed in mid-2021, the facility will include more than 1,300 guest rooms and about 340 meeting rooms.

MTI plans to appoint additional segregated facilities in the next few weeks. Facility operators interested in serving as segregated facilities may submit their proposals through the Singapore Tourism Board no later than 31 December.

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