Attractions reopen to cautious crowds, with strict safety measures in place

Remote video URL

SINGAPORE - Attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore (USS) and the Singapore Zoo buzzed with guests once again on Saturday (July 4), with a slew of safety measures in place to keep visitors safe.

Both attractions as well as 11 others were given the green light earlier this week to reopen from July 1. They had been closed for nearly three months, since the start of Singapore's circuit breaker on April 7.

Other attractions and domestic tour operators can submit reopening proposals to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for assessment, and may resume operations after receiving approval from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

As of Friday, the STB had received six applications from tour operators, and around 40 applications from attractions. It said several more attractions have received approval and will announce their reopening dates in the coming weeks.

A steady stream of visitors was seen entering USS on Saturday when The Straits Times visited Sentosa in the afternoon, while S.E.A. Aquarium had a slower but regular flow of guests.

Visitors took easily to the safety requirements. Masks were worn and queues were orderly, with everyone maintaining safe distances.

Interior designer Jomin Lin, 29, was at the aquarium with her husband and their one-year-old son.

She said: "It was a good trip and I'm happy we brought our kid out. He got very excited when he saw the jellyfish and he started waving his hands around. He's been home for very long and he gets grumpy sometimes."

Asked if she was concerned about safety, she said she was not worried, as the aquarium wasn't too crowded and she had also taken precautions for her son by bringing along a face shield for him.

Visitors outside S.E.A. Aquarium on July 4, 2020. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Secondary school student Enya Oh, 15, said she and a friend decided to visit USS since they have annual passes to the theme park.

"When the circuit breaker started, it was very difficult to accept having to live in isolation. But coming out again today made me feel a lot better about the new normal."

While excited to be able to visit the theme park, she was also cautious.

"On our entry ticket, there is a list of safety precautions for us to follow such as taking your temperature and maintaining social distancing," she said.

She had also brought along her own hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes, and an extra mask. Though queues for the rides were long due to each ride having a limited rider capacity, Ms Oh said she enjoyed the park's upbeat atmosphere.

"It felt like a short break from the outside world," she said.

As with the reopening of retail stores and lifestyle-related services, safety and hygiene remain a top priority.

Attractions have deployed staff to ensure that people continue to keep a safe distance from one another, and restricted visitor numbers to no more than 25 per cent of their operating capacity at any one time. Some, like the Singapore Zoo, have also applied an antimicrobial-coating on high touch surfaces.

Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) said it is taking a "careful and controlled approach" to reopening its attractions.

Visitors entering Universal Studios Singapore on July 4, 2020. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

For example, at USS, visitors have to sit in alternate rows for all rides, with family members or those from the same group occupying the same row. All rides are wiped down after each use and all 3D glasses are disinfected after every use.

At the RWS casino, dealers have to disinfect their hands before entering and exiting the pits, and after handling items from patrons. Gaming chips collected from customers are cleaned and sanitised, and playing cards are disposed of after two hours of use.

RWS declined to provide visitorship numbers for its attractions.

A Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) spokesman said its parks are also implementing regular cleaning routines. The Jurong Bird Park, River Safari and Singapore Zoo will reopen to the public next Monday. Members have been able to visit from Friday. The Night Safari will reopen at a later date.

"We have applied a microbial coating to enhance safety across our high touch points. This will be supported by hourly cleaning protocols," the spokesman said.

Some activities, such as the animal presentations at the Singapore Zoo, have also been temporarily suspended to prevent crowding.

Although WRS declined to share daily visitorship numbers, operating at 25 per cent of capacity allows its three open parks to have between 1,000 and 2,250 guests in total at any one time.

But not everyone is willing to enter these attractions as yet.

Mr Wilson Nah, 45, who works in supply chain management, intended to visit USS with his 10-year-old son on Saturday. He decided not to go in after seeing the long queues.

"Observing the queue outside USS, it is very crowded. I am concerned that it might not be possible to have 1m distancing," he said.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.