Local attractions well-maintained during Covid-19 circuit breaker, ready to reopen in July

The Singapore Tourism Board announced that 13 attractions including the Singapore Zoo will be able to welcome guests. PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - From maintaining flowering plants to caring for various wildlife to making sure that art pieces are kept at the right temperature, attractions in Singapore have been keeping busy though closed for the last few months.

The Singapore Tourism Board announced on Sunday (June 28) that 13 attractions, including the ArtScience Museum and Singapore Zoo, will once again be able to welcome guests from Wednesday (July 1). Most will be restricted to no more than 25 per cent of their operating capacity at any one time.

These attractions have been closed for nearly three months, since the start of Singapore's circuit breaker on April 7. Though shut to visitors, staff have still been working hard to make sure the attractions are well-maintained and ready to reopen.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Monday (June 29) Mr Ng Boon Gee, senior director of conservatory operations at Gardens by the Bay said about half of his team of 20 staff were rostered each day to return to care for the various plants at the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest.

Besides caring for the plants, Mr Ng's team also had to cope with supply chain disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The team was unable to procure certain seasonal temperate plants from Europe due to flight restrictions.

To overcome this, flowering plants native to colder climates were instead grown in-house in climate-controlled greenhouses.

Mr Ng said: "We are proud to say that the plants in our Flower Dome, such as sunflowers, delphiniums and foxgloves have been grown locally for the first time ever."

The Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay will reopen on July 11. Friends of the Gardens members will be able to visit from as early as Wednesday. Other attractions at the gardens, including the Cloud Forest and Floral Fantasy will remain closed until further notice.

At the ArtScience Museum, which is operated by Marina Bay Sands (MBS), galleries were secured with round-the-clock security.

An MBS spokesman said: "We also had to ensure that the environmental conditions in the galleries remained within the international museum standard parameters - relative humidity and temperature within the exhibition galleries had to be closely monitored and adjusted where necessary."

Artworks were also covered where necessary to avoid dust build up. The museum's technical team, conservators and registrars, conducted weekly inspections to ensure that the works were kept in excellent condition.

MBS said the ArtScience Museum and Sands SkyPark Observation Deck will reopen first to Sands Rewards members on July 1. Other venues within the complex, such as the hotel and Marquee nightclub, will resume operating later, in line with government guidelines.

At Resorts World Sentosa, the Universal Studios theme park and S.E.A Aquarium will reopen on Wednesday and Saturday respectively.

A spokesman for Resorts World Sentosa said a "lean team of unsung heroes" worked behind the scenes to maintain all the rides, facilities and infrastructure while the attractions were closed. At Universal Studios Singapore for example, engineers and technicians had to carry out regular safety inspections, maintenance and test-runs of all rides.

At the four parks run by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), including Singapore Zoo and the River Safari, almost half the company's 1,000 staff continued to report to work to ensure that the animals received the care and attention they need. No staff were let go during the circuit breaker period.

A WRS spokesman said: "Our four zoological parks are home to 15,000 animals, whose welfare is our foremost priority. They continued to receive the same care as when our parks are open."

During the closure, the animals continued to be released into their exhibits to exercise, socialise and forage. Their keepers also continued to stimulate them both mentally and physically through enrichment activities and positive reinforcement training.

The Jurong Bird Park, River Safari and Singapore Zoo will reopen to the public on July 6, while members will be able to visit from Friday. The Night Safari will reopen at a later date.

The WRS spokesman said: "We are excited to welcome everyone back. Until this circuit breaker, our four parks have not missed a day of operations in almost 50 years, so we have missed having people around."

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