Business travel into Singapore to be quarantine free from January

Short-term travellers to stay, work and meet at dedicated facilities

Short-term business travellers from all countries will be able to stay, work and meet at dedicated facilities here from the middle of next month without the need for prior quarantine, as efforts get under way to draw them back to Singapore.

Those who opt to use the arrangement - likely the first of its kind in the world - will be transported from the airport to large dedicated facilities equipped with self-service food and beverage options and gym pods.

There, they can have meetings through floor-to-ceiling airtight glass panels with local businessmen, as well as with businessmen from other countries with safe distancing measures in place.

"Global business travel has been severely affected by the need for quarantine measures... Different countries will continue to have different risk profiles and we should not let this hinder business meetings," said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing while on a tour of Connect@Changi yesterday, one of the facilities that will be used to house travellers in the segregated travel lane.

"Dedicated facilities can allow Singaporeans to meet (business) travellers from elsewhere. They can also allow (business) travellers to meet each other."

Regular testing will be conducted throughout the duration of their stay - for instance, on alternate days - in addition to tests before departure from their home countries and upon arrival here.

They will also have to move within the facility in their pre-declared travel group of up to five people to reduce the risk of mass transmission.

The segregated travel lane is distinct from existing reciprocal green lane arrangements, which apply only to selected countries but allow those on essential business here to move around Singapore more freely.

It is expected to increase traffic at Changi Airport, where about 15 per cent of travellers pre-Covid-19 entered the country for business-related reasons.

It should also have knock-on effects on the hospitality sector, which could cater food and provide accommodation for the travellers, although restrictions in their movement mean the impact could be limited.

Analysts, however, said the move has a larger symbolic effect, boosting confidence in Singapore's status as a business hub, especially with the World Economic Forum set to take place here next year.

CIMB private banking economist Song Seng Wun said: "We have fallen a long way from our peak, so these calculated steps to ease restrictions all go towards helping as many people as possible to claw back some business. "

Connect@Changi is a four-star facility being built at Singapore Expo and Max Atria.