Event professionals in Singapore were sent into a tailspin last week when the city state announced tighter restrictions following a spike in community cases of Covid-19. Temporary safeguards will restrict MICE pilot events to 250 pax (down from 750), and all events with more than 100 delegates will be required to implement on-site pre-event testing for all participants. Dining groups will also be reduced from eight to five persons.
These measures were introduced on Saturday, 8 May, and will be in place for three weeks, until 30 May.
However, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) stated that event organisers can continue to submit applications for larger pilot events (up to 750 pax) that are scheduled on or after 31 May 2021. As always, approvals will be subject to the prevailing safe management measures at the time.
Speaking to M&C Asia, STB executive director, exhibitions & conferences, Andrew Phua, said: "Since the resumption of MICE events, our MICE ecosystem has demonstrated the agility and capabilities in implementing the necessary safe management measures as we pilot events in a calibrated manner. As we navigate the evolving situation together, we are heartened by the efforts thus far and will continue to partner with stakeholders to position Singapore as a safe, trusted and innovative MICE destination."
He added: "The safety and wellbeing of all stakeholders such as business event attendees, players in the MICE industry and their employees, as well as our local community, remains our top priority. STB will continue to monitor and review the implementation of safety protocols for MICE events, taking into account the prevailing health situation here and around the world."
This temporary setback hasn’t ruffled too many feathers, however, as shortly after the restrictions were announced, Bloomberg declared plans to hold its New Economy Forum in Singapore from 16-19 November.
The fourth annual forum (held virtually last year due to Covid-19) is set to bring together some 400 business leaders, heads of state, and academics from around the world to discuss issues affecting the global economy. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is among the confirmed list of high-profile guests.
“The New Economy Forum is a chance for leaders to talk with one another and think big on [issues related to Covid-19] and other key issues — including the challenges and opportunities around climate change. We’re looking forward to returning to Singapore, one of the world’s most innovative cities and home of the inaugural forum,” said Bloomberg founder, Michael Bloomberg, in a press statement.
The former mayor of New York City also cited "logistics" as a reason to hold the event in Singapore, which hosted the inaugural edition of the forum in 2018.
Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, added: “Health and safety remain Singapore’s top priority, and we will work closely with the Bloomberg team to create a safe and conducive environment to welcome all delegates here in November.”
In another positive move, US Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, also confirmed his attendance at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a high-level security summit taking place in Singapore next month (4-5 June). The event will mark the Secretary's first trip to Southeast Asia, where he will also conduct bilateral and multilateral meetings.
Organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the 19th edition of the Shangri-La Dialogue will take place at the eponymous hotel, where an “event bubble” will be created to allow meetings to occur freely, and delegates to move around the hotel with minimal restrictions.
IISS told M&C Asia that further details of the event bubble, and the safety and security measures involved, will be released closer to date.
In line with Singapore’s ‘test and learn’ approach, the Shangri-La Dialogue will likely act as a stepping stone towards the World Economic Forum, which will take place in Singapore in August.