Gan Kim Yong: Bloomberg forum delegates face stricter restrictions than weddings in S'pore

One of the objectives of the forum is business networking, which is more efficient when carried out in groups.

Ashley Tan | October 25, 2021, 05:00 PM

Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong came forward on Oct. 25 to address the public's concerns surrounding the upcoming Bloomberg New Economy Forum (NEF) in November.

These concerns mainly center around a certain measure allowing the forum's delegates to dine in groups of up to five at designated restaurants and venues, which could potentially lead to the risk of an outbreak or infection of Covid-19.

However, Gan, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force (MTF), emphasised that despite the five-person dine in concession, those attending the forum face much stricter restrictions as compared to those of events like weddings.

Weddings and MICE events allow 5 pax to dine together too

During the doorstop, Gan reiterated the measures that the delegates have to undergo, which are:

  • All participating NEF delegates must be fully vaccinated, and foreign delegates must be tested negative with a PCR test on arrival before entering Singapore.
  • All NEF delegates are subject to daily ART tests and a negative test result is required before they can participate in the conference and attend meals.
  • Such meals must be held at pre-designated venues or restaurants which will be entirely booked for the event.
  • Local residents who are not delegates can only attend these meals if they similarly undergo a mandatory pre-event test and obtain a negative result.

The current NEF protocols are similar to those for all MICE events and wedding receptions in Singapore, Gan said, where guests are allowed to dine in groups of five, as long as safe distancing between individuals is in place.

Gan added that the requirements for the NEF are actually stricter than those of weddings, as wedding guests do not have to undergo pre-event testing.

These designated venues and restaurants delegates can dine at will likely be restaurants in hotels where the delegates stay at, or those in the vicinity of the hotels.

Gan said that more details will be released once the venues have been finalised.

Delegates are still required to abide by the two-person dine in restriction when outside of the forum's designated venues and restaurants.

Business networking is one of the objectives

Gan explained that the one of the purposes of the NEF is business networking, which further lends itself to the reasoning behind the dine-in rules.

"In business networking, you do want to meet as many people as you can... within the timeframe that is allocated.

Therefore, in order for the Bloomberg Forum and MICE events to be effective, we need to ensure that they have the space to be able to interact with one another, so that they can network, so that they can meet their business associates, so that they can talk business with one another.

Such networking hence benefits from a group setting, instead of a conversation between just two people "one to one", Gan said.

Additionally, as the delegates are flying in from all around the world, Gan sees the value in "mak[ing] use of every moment that is available" in Singapore, and allowing them to continue their business discussions during mealtimes.

With the aforementioned stringent restrictions, a safe business networking space is created for delegates.

High-profile individuals such as Bill Gates and Google CEO Sundar Pichar are expected to attend the forum.

What about Singaporeans?

In response to a question on whether similar dine-in concessions can be made for the general public, Gan said that the scale of risk is vastly different.

"We are thinking of doing this as we mentioned at the last press conference that we have to look at the overall situation. And why is this so?

This is because if we were to open up for the general public. For them to be able to dine in in a larger group. This does not apply just to a limited number of delegates of forum, it must apply to all Singaporeans.

That is more than 5 million people. So it is quite different in terms of the scale of the risks and the potential risks.

Those who are affected, may bring back the virus back home, and there may be seniors at home that will be exposed to the danger. So we have to bear this in mind as we discuss and explore the possibilities for opening up and dining in and flexibility for locals."

Nevertheless, he said the government is currently looking into easing restrictions for five people from the same household, as the risk is significantly lower.

Why is the NEF important?

Gan also highlighted the importance of the NEF in helping the country preserve its status as a "hub city", which will support Singapore's economic recovery.

Delegates from all over the world will be arriving to network and "do business with one another, as well as to do business with Singapore companies".

"The Bloomberg Forum is a vote of confidence for Singapore, and our ability to manage Covid-19 in our journey to living with Covid-19. We will continue to work with the organiser, to ensure that it is carried out safely.

I understand Singaporeans are eager to have larger group sizes for dining in. As we explained last week, we are monitoring the situation. And if the situation allows, we will make adjustments, including allowing a large number of members from the same household to dine in together."

Gan added that it is also unlikely any large outbreak will occur from the NEF, as the daily ART tests will pick up cases as they appear, lessening the likelihood of transmission.

MTI is currently in touch with the Ministry of Health and the Multi-Ministry Taskforce, and are prepared for any infections that may arise from the forum.

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