'Very uncertain' whether restrictions on gatherings will be eased in time for F1 race: Lawrence Wong

Spectators at the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on Sept 22, 2019.
Spectators at the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on Sept 22, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - It is "very uncertain" whether restrictions will be eased enough by September such that crowds can gather to watch the Formula One night race in Singapore, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

He noted that Singapore will be in its second phase of reopening after the circuit breaker by the time the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix is scheduled to flag off on Sept 20. Public gatherings will be capped at five people at the start of Phase 2.

The Government could potentially expand that limit to a larger number and allow some events to take place with appropriate safe distancing measures "if conditions are favourable" and the number of community infections remains low, Mr Wong said.

"But exactly when this can happen, and whether the conditions would permit, it's very uncertain. So, we wouldn't be able to tell anyone at this stage whether it is possible or not in September," he added.

The minister was responding to a question during a virtual press conference on Monday (June 1) about the viability of holding large events with crowds like the F1 and Rugby Sevens in coming months.

Race promoter Singapore GP said last month that it is not feasible to conduct the race behind closed doors, given that it is a street circuit.

The Straits Times reported last week that preparations are under way for the event to go ahead with a live audience, with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) calling for at least four tenders relating to the set-up of viewing facilities and ancillary activities since February.

STB had said that tenderers should factor in the Covid-19 pandemic and any related regulations in their planning and proposals.

On Saturday, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said an announcement will be made this week on the fate of the race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

 

Pointing to the fluid and uncertain nature of the Covid-19 situation, Mr Wong on Monday said organisers will have to make their own decisions on events, recognising this uncertainty is present.