Landmark events like World Economic Forum, Shangri-La Dialogue in S'pore to go on as planned

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has said adjustments to plans would be made as necessary. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Singapore's calendar of signature events - headlined by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in August, Shangri-La Dialogue in June and Bloomberg New Economy Forum in November - is proceeding as planned, with organisers promising to prioritise health and safety measures and to keep tabs on an evolving Covid-19 pandemic situation.

Their assurances come in the wake of tightened restrictions announced last week, in response to climbing local infections.

As part of the measures, event attendance limits have been reduced from 750 to 250, and pre-event testing must be used for meetings with more than 100 people.

Although these restrictions currently run till May 30, the authorities have warned that conditions remain fluid and uncertain, and that event organisers will have to review the options available based on latest developments.

The possibility of Singapore entering a second lockdown has also not been ruled out.

Still, planning for the WEF's special annual meeting in Singapore from Aug 17 to 20 remains on track, said organisers.

A spokesman said the Switzerland-based organisation was in close contact with and getting regular updates from the Singapore Government, and that the meeting will provide the "safest possible environment for a global gathering at scale".

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has said adjustments to plans would be made as necessary, and reiterated that participants would have to comply with strict public health requirements and safe management measures, including a rigorous testing regimen.

On top of stringent health protocols, the Shangri-La Dialogue from June 4 to 5 will feature an event "bubble" centred on the hotel it is named after. This will enable fully in-person meetings and discussions between high-level defence policymakers to take place freely, as they will be able to move around the grounds with minimal restrictions.

A spokesman for the security summit's organiser - the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) - said it would continue to closely partner the Singapore Government to ensure the "highest levels of safety" for participants.

Other events like the World Cities Summit (WCS) - organised by the National Development Ministry's Centre for Liveable Cities and Urban Redevelopment Authority - will continue with scaled-down plans.

It was originally set to be held at the Marina Bay Sands' Expo and Convention Centre from June 20 to 24, in conjunction with the National Environment Agency's CleanEnviro Summit Singapore and Singapore International Water Week by water agency PUB.

WCS 2021 will instead take place with a mix of "hybrid" and fully virtual sessions from June 21 to 23, before a series of webinars from July to November.

The number of locally based participants who will form the in-person audience will be kept lean, in view of the pandemic, a spokesman added.

PUB's Water Week, too, will now comprise a hybrid summit on June 21, followed by a two-week virtual event.

This year's CleanEnviro event, meanwhile, has been reconfigured as a one-day conference in September, targeting local executive-level attendees.

Come year-end, the Bloomberg New Economy Forum from Nov 16 to 19 will gather government leaders and top businessmen - including Tesla boss Elon Musk - to discuss global challenges.

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.

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