Guided tours suspended in Singapore

The small-scale, wellness-themed event in Chinatown which was launched last weekend has now been canned

Visitors enjoyed free trishaw rides around Chinatown as part of the wellness-themed event over the weekend. Credit: Chinatown Business Association

SINGAPORE - All hopes for the launch of a wellness-themed event organised by local tour operators and heritage businesses in Singapore's Chinatown were dashed on Tuesday evening when the government's COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce announced that such activities will be suspended.

Last weekend, Chinatown Business Association, which represents tourism businesses from hotels, hawkers, retailers to business and grassroots leaders, organised a wellness-themed event, Healthy Chinatown, to encourage visitors to explore the precinct.

Organisers had been keen to continue welcoming visitors, emphasising that Chinatown "remains safe for families to visit".

Among the highlights was a health and beauty themed tour around Chinatown, which was led by the Society of Tourist Guides Singapore. The 30-minute tour offered an introduction to facets of Chinatown's history as well as traditional herbal teas and soups that are said to boost wellness.

Visitors also had a chance to experience Singapore's rich heritage past in the 1950s and 1960s, with traditional street games and free trishaw tours around the precinct. 

Participants learning the art of traditional local coffee making at Nanyang Old Coffee, an authentic Singaporean brand that still grinds and roasts coffee daily. Credit: Chinatown Business Association

The event's series of workshops, talks and tours drew a turnout of 240 local and international visitors, including a full house for a 15-seat coffee workshop organised by Nanyang Coffee and 40-seat herbalist talk by Thye Shan Medical.

All sessions were capped at a maximum of 50 people in order to ensure the safety of visitors. It also implemented measures such as social distancing with clear floor-marked stickers, temperature taking and contact tracing, in accordance with guidelines by the Ministry of Health.

Mr Lim Yick Suan, executive director of Chinatown Business Association, had said prior to the announcement by the taskforce that with the ongoing concern of wellness in Singapore, the event would have allowed visitors to gain more knowledge whilst enjoying themselves and celebrating the rich heritage of Singapore's Chinatown.

The taskforce has decided to enforce stricter measures that limit gatherings outside of work and school to 10 persons or fewer, and ensure that physical distancing of at least one metre can be achieved in settings where interactions are non-transient. These measures will take effect from 26 March 2020, 2359 hours.  These measures are to be in place until 30 April 2020, but this may be extended if the situation does not improve.

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