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Photograph: Kashmira Kasmuri

What will things look like when major attractions reopen

Navigating through an indoor garden, a new exhibition or a themed park will not be the same post-circuit breaker

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
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We’re living in a time where there are two epochs: pre and post-circuit breaker. Until we have an effective vaccine to combat Covid-19, the pandemic will continue to loom over us for a long time. It has changed our lives in unimaginable ways – forcing businesses to close, encouraging people to stay home, and driving everyone to adjust to the ‘new normal’. But when will things go back to the ‘old normal’? When will all our favourite places reopen? What would life look once we are able to step out of the house and visit major attractions once again?

RECOMMENDED What you can and cannot do in Singapore after the circuit breaker and Singapore reopening: social distancing rules explained and everything you can do now

The three phases of gradual resumption
Photograph: Unsplash/Victor He

The three phases of gradual resumption

Singapore is currently two weeks into the first of a three-phased easing of the circuit breaker measures that were imposed on April 7 in a bid to curb the spread of the evolving Covid-19. The Singapore Government has laid down its roadmap of plans to ease out of the circuit breaker in three phases, with each described as conditional. These are split into Phase 1: Safe Reopening, Phase 2: Safe Transition, and Phase 3: Safe Nation.

Following a contraction in locally transmitted infections in Singapore, the initial phase was put into action on June 2. Businesses such as food manufacturers, barbers, laundrettes and some F&B outlets have resumed normal operations since then. This marks the country’s first steps towards resuming economic activity. But an economic recovery may take longer than expected as the government forecasted a full-year economic decline of up to seven percent, teetering on the edge of being the worst downturn for the country since its independence. 

However, businesses resumed in Phase 1 only make up around 75 percent of the economy. Tourism and entertainment organisations which tend to attract both local and international crowds such as Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) are not among them. According to the Singapore Tourism Board, “most tourism business activities will be allowed to resume operations in Phase 2, subject to safe management measures, group size and capacity limits being met.”

The second phase could take place prior to June 30, where entertainment venues such as bars, nightclubs, karaoke outlets, cinemas, theatres, and other indoor and outdoor attractions are allowed to reopen. But don’t get your hopes up too high – this ultimately comes down to the health situation. And if things aren’t looking up, they can be delayed.

However, it could take multiple steps and months to reach the third and final phase. “The period is less certain, but it will involve months, it will not be just weeks. It may take three months, six months – it may take longer depending on how the situation evolves," said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at a press conference on May 19. Nonetheless, expect controls for crowd sizes, strict safety management measures, and the already emphasised one-metre social distance.

Expect to be scanned wherever you go

As of now, venues including offices, factories, hospitals, hotels, supermarkets and hairdressers, as well as taxis, are required to use a contact tracing app called SafeEntry that logs in the arrival and departure of people. If there is a confirmed case at that location or venue, contact tracing can be sped up using information from SafeEntry, which in turn prevents new clusters from forming. 

Besides implementing SafeEntry to all locations and venues, businesses in retail, entertainment and leisure are also adjusting their modus operandi prior to welcoming visitors back. That’s not all either – the first batch of portable contract tracing devices will also be distributed later this month to everyone in Singapore in a bid to monitor the spread.

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Ensuring health and safety for all
Photograph: Marina Bay Sands

Ensuring health and safety for all

RWS made an official statement announcing that it will remain suspended until further notice in view of the Government’s plan for a gradual resumption of business activities in phases. The SG Clean accredited organisation is working closely with the authorities on welcoming guests back in a safe manner that is in line with the Government’s health directives including practising good sanitation and hygiene standards while boosting health and safety protocols to ensure a safe working environment for employers and guests when operations resume.

Another SG Clean certified venue, Marina Bay Sands, also remains closed for now. However, it has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to boost its business resiliency and enhance public health. About 40 taskforces have been set up during the current temporary closure to explore various ways in improving operations once it’s authorised to reopen. This includes reimagining its MICE and F&B venue set-up to designing masks and goggles that seek to protect both staff and visitors. Approximately 1,000 staff in security, facilities and cleaning departments have been working in staggered shifts on-site during this period to maintain the cleanliness and safety of the iconic landmark.

“We are working closely with the authorities on our re-opening schedule, in line with Singapore’s gradual resumption of business activities in phases.”

- Marina Bay Sands' spokesperson

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Awaiting the highly anticipated return
Photograph: Esaias Tan

Awaiting the highly anticipated return

On the other hand, Gardens by the Bay’s enclosed attractions including the OCBC Skyway, F&B establishments and car parks are to remain shut until further notice, while its outdoor gardens remain open. Visitors are constantly reminded to practise the strict safe distancing guidelines and hygiene practices.

We can understand the government’s objective to restart the economy in a safe manner, and we await guidelines on when Gardens by the Bay can fully reopen,” says Gardens by the Bay's spokesperson. “Hence, we will continue to invest resources to expand our online presence, after the good response to our #StayHomeWithGB online initiative, launched during circuit breaker to bring plant-related content to people who have to be at home. Not everyone will be ready to venture out yet even when the circuit breaker is lifted in the different phases, so this is one way to bring Gardens by the Bay to people.”

Not all is halted during this period. The Gardens’ skeletal team of horticulturists are still working and maintaining the outdoor gardens as well as the rare and valuable plants in Cloud Forest and Flower Dome – all in anticipation of welcoming back visitors when operations resume. “There is a role for a national garden to play regardless of whether it is a typical day or a pandemic period. At Gardens by the Bay, we have always believed in the power of nature and that there is a respite to be sought in flora and fauna,” she points out. While overall visitorship has declined, there are still locals exercising daily at its outdoor gardens.

Providing safe and enjoyable experience

With the increased frequency of sanitisation, temperature screening and contact tracing, as well as the decreased capacity of visitors, wandering through an indoor garden, a new exhibition or a themed park will not be the same post-circuit breaker. Expect to be screened, to purchase from an app, and to use contactless technology.

“We are actively reviewing [our] safety protocols, taking reference from other best industry practices to prepare for the eventual reopening of our enclosed attractions,” says Gardens by the Bay's spokesperson. “Post-Covid-19, the emphasis will be on the use of contactless technology to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for our visitors. We are currently exploring the use of a single app where our visitors can do a variety of activities such as buying time-stamped tickets to our indoor attractions via a cashless system, get real-time updates on areas within the Gardens that are more crowded, as well do their check-in in order to facilitate contact tracing should the need arise.”

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"Post-Covid-19, the emphasis will be on the use of contactless technology to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for our visitors."

- Gardens by the Bay's spokesperson

What to do in the meantime
Photograph: TAO Group

What to do in the meantime

While the dustball accumulates in your social calendar, waiting until the day our favourite attractions reopen, places like Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, and Sentosa are bringing their signature experiences online. 

“In April, we launched an online campaign called #MBSatHome, where visitors can find a range of online activities as well as tips and tricks to brighten up life at home. They include curated playlists on music streaming platform Spotify, workout challenges, expert tips on how to be productive at home, and even Zoom backgrounds of our iconic locations across property made available for free download,” a spokesperson of Marina Bay Sands shares.

ArtScience Museum also launched a new online initiative called ArtScience at Home in the same month where home audiences can experience its programmes and educational activities without stepping out.

The city’s biggest nightclub Marquee then kicked off its new virtual party series called Marquee One Live on May 29 on its Twitch channel. The series, which runs until June 26, takes place every Friday night from 8pm and features a lineup of international DJs that include Dannic, Dash Berlin, Blasterjaxx and Paul Van Dyk.

The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands has also made luxury shopping available online through its new ‘click and deliver’ Shopping Concierge that allows shoppers to select items from over 35 luxury brands, with complimentary delivery islandwide.

Moreover, chefs from restaurants like db Bistro & Oyster Bar, Mott 32, and Yardbird Southern Table & Bar are sharing recipes to recreate their signature dishes on Marina Bay Sands’ social media platforms.

Alternatively, expand your knowledge on the art of horticulture with #StayHomeWithGB. “People can look forward to more content such as our newly-launched video series Behind the Scenes: Designer Chat, where our horticulturists share what goes into designing our popular ever-changing floral displays, as well as new plant varieties in our e-shop,” Gardens by the Bay's spokesperson shares.

While you can't sink your toes in the sand and feel the sea breeze in your hair just yet, you can still explore the best of Sentosa from your living space with its Stayhomecation series which offers unique online experiences via Sentosa's social platforms. Dance like no one's looking (literally) with beats dropped by Rumours Beach Club and Tanjong Beach Club's resident DJs, relax with a dose of golden-hour-calm, liven up your Zoom parties with a tutorial series featuring expert tips on how to recreate some of the cocktails offered on the island, and find your zen with some yoga. 

Watch this space as we continue to bring you the latest updates on the circuit breaker, as well as the reopening of venues. Check out the things you can and cannot do during the circuit breaker, and the uncertain future of dining out in the age of social distancing.

While we wait...

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