Hotels, wedding venues in S'pore help couples adapt to new Covid-19 rules

A pre-event test site set up by Kingston Medical Clinic for a wedding reception at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Havelock Road on May 8, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - From offering refunds to absorbing the costs of pre-event testing, hotels and wedding venues have been working to help couples adapt to the sudden restrictions announced on Tuesday (May 4) and which kicked in this weekend.

For weddings this month, Fairmont Singapore will pay the cost of pre-event testing for Covid-19, if couples want to go ahead with more than 50 people, said Ms Kerry Healy, chief commercial officer of hotel operator Accor for South-east Asia, Japan and South Korea.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore and Italian restaurant Monti will also absorb a portion of the pre-event testing costs for weddings this month.

Mandarin Oriental will be absorbing 50 per cent of the costs, and offer that for weddings next month as well. Food and beverage business 1-Group, which manages Monti, did not reveal what proportion of the cost it will absorb.

Other hotels will be offering refunds to couples who have made full payment for weddings that were meant to have more than 50 people attending.

These include Grand Hyatt Singapore, which will refund those who have made full payment for a 100-person arrangement and are choosing to go ahead with their wedding with a reduced guest list of 50 instead, said Ms June Choong, the hotel's director of events.

The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore will allow couples to downsize their guest list without incurring any penalty, or to postpone their wedding if the venue is available, said general manager Cavaliere Giovanni Viterale of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts.

Since Saturday, the capacity for marriage solemnisation gatherings and wedding receptions was reduced to 50 people without pre-event testing, down from 100.

The restrictions have been imposed till May 30.

Despite the sudden limitations, about 70 per cent of couples have decided to go ahead with weddings scheduled from May 8 to May 30, said Accor's Ms Healy. Accor is the largest hotel operator here, managing 27 hotels.

1-Group said about 60 per cent of couples with weddings this month have decided to stick to their schedules, while the rest are considering postponing. It manages eight wedding venues, including Monti.

Many couples are still deciding whether they want to have more than 50 people present, as pre-event testing could be logistically complex, said the hotels and wedding venues.

Guests may also be reluctant to go for the tests, they added.

Some hotels are coming up with new arrangements to allow for these tests to be conducted on site.

Mr Viterale said The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts is working with a healthcare service provider to list The Fullerton Hotel Singapore as an approved venue for pre-event testing.

The test would cost less than $30 a person, he said.

The Sunday Times understands that most tests cost about $50, though they can be as low as $20.

Guests attending weddings at Fairmont Singapore can be swabbed at Raffles City Convention Centre, an official vaccination centre located near the hotel.

At the Raffles City centre, healthcare provider Fullerton Healthcare will be able to conduct on-site pre-event testing for Fairmont, said Ms Healy.

This will be done just before the event. Guests will get the result of the test - an antigen rapid test that involves a nasal swab - within 30 minutes.

Having a test site that is close to the venue will help ensure that testing requirements are clearly communicated to the guests and that test results are accurately verified, added Ms Healy.

Mandarin Oriental also has an on-site facility for pre-event testing. Results can be processed in about 15 minutes, said Kingston Medical Group, which is administering the tests at the hotel.

A couple, who wanted to be known only as Mr and Mrs Leow, held their wedding reception at a Chinese restaurant on Saturday.

Their reception, which had been postponed from October last year, was initially planned for 100 people. When the new rules were announced on Tuesday, they had to rush to make alternative arrangements.

While they considered having pre-event testing, some guests were not comfortable with going for a swab test. In the end, the couple decided to scale down their guest list, and go ahead with a reception for 50 people.

The restaurant, which they declined to name, was unable to offer a refund for the scaled-down guest list as ingredients for the wedding lunch had already been ordered, though it offered to deliver the meals to the remaining 50 guests who could not attend the wedding.

But the couple, who work in IT, rejected the offer as it would be too logistically complex to coordinate food deliveries.

"Though we felt it was not fair that we could not get any compensation, we felt there was no point arguing over this - we just wanted to move on," said Mrs Leow, 28.

Additional reporting by Adeline Tan

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