First Istana open house on May 13, to mark both Labour Day and Hari Raya Puasa

Every year, the Istana welcomes visitors on both Hari Raya Puasa and Labour Day. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Istana grounds will be open to the public on May 13 for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic reached Singapore last year.

The occasion is to mark both Labour Day and Hari Raya Puasa, which fall on May 1 and May 13 respectively.

It comes with the further easing of community measures, but visitors will still have to pre-book two-hourly time slots to enter.

While there will be no performances, tours, booths or food trucks unlike in previous years, visitors can explore the new Inclusive Garden, which was launched in February.

The garden features paved paths at least 1.5m wide, making it wheelchair-accessible and senior-friendly.

The 815 sq m Inclusive Garden houses more than 100 plant species, such as the butterfly ginger, roselle and lemongrass.

The new Inclusive Garden was launched in February. PHOTO: ST FILE

Every year, the Istana welcomes visitors on both Hari Raya Puasa and Labour Day, which are public holidays.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Istana Open House was cancelled on both occasions, with President Halimah Yacob organising a virtual tour of the Istana last year for Hari Raya Puasa instead.

More than 120 beneficiaries from social service agencies New Life Stories, Ain Society, Jamiyah Halfway House, Muhammadiyah Welfare Home and Pertapis Halfway House and their families took part in the virtual tour.

The virtual tour featured 360-degree views of the reception hall, state room and banquet hall inside the Istana's main building.

A large-scale Istana open house was last held on Jan 26 last year, when more than 12,000 guests visited the President's official residence on the second day of the Chinese New Year.

This year's open house will be more subdued, with safe management measures in place. The main building of the Istana will also not be open to the public.

Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

They can be reserved at the website from Thursday (April 29), 10am.

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