Coronavirus Singapore

NDP postponed to Aug 21, after curbs end

Ceremonial parade on Aug 9; National Day Rally pushed back to Aug 29

Spectators gathered in Pasir Ris to watch the mobile column as it travelled through heartland areas on Aug 9 last year. To mark National Day this year, heartland fireworks and the Red Lions' free-fall jumps were to take place on Aug 7 and 8, but thes
Spectators gathered in Pasir Ris to watch the mobile column as it travelled through heartland areas on Aug 9 last year. To mark National Day this year, heartland fireworks and the Red Lions' free-fall jumps were to take place on Aug 7 and 8, but these have been cancelled amid stricter curbs under phase two (heightened alert), which is scheduled to last until Aug 18.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

The National Day Parade (NDP) this year will be postponed to Aug 21, after the end of the latest Covid-19 restrictions, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said yesterday.

With NDP pushed back, the National Day Rally - originally scheduled for Aug 22 - will now be held on Aug 29, the Prime Minister's Office said last night.

Mindef's announcement came as Singapore reverted to stricter measures under phase two (heightened alert) for a month starting yesterday. This is scheduled to last until Aug 18, after National Day.

A ceremonial parade will be held on Aug 9 instead to mark Singapore's 56th year since independence. It will be similar to the one held last year at the Padang, but will take place at the Marina Bay floating platform, added Mindef.

Heartland fireworks and the Red Lions' free-fall jumps - which were to take place on Aug 7 and 8 - have been cancelled. The NDP rehearsal planned for tomorrow and the preview on July 31 have also been postponed.

To prepare for the NDP on Aug 21, rehearsals will be conducted later in smaller component groups, said Mindef. The dates will not be announced to discourage crowds from gathering around Marina Bay.

"Since 1966, the NDP has been held every year to mark Singapore's independence. This national event brings together Singaporeans from all walks of life, as one united people to affirm our unity and nationhood," said Mindef.

"The changes this year will enable NDP 2021 to be held in safer conditions, while maintaining that cherished tradition."

Singapore tightened restrictions for a month following the emergence of a large cluster linked to Jurong Fishery Port, which has spread to more than 40 wet markets and food centres islandwide.

Among other measures during this period, dining in at eateries is not allowed, group sizes for social gatherings have been capped at two, and people are advised to minimise social interactions.

Finance Minister and co-chair of the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 Lawrence Wong had said on Tuesday that National Day was "not just any other occasion", and the intention was to continue with the parade.

But he added that Mindef was reviewing the conduct and scale of the parade, as well as the necessary safe management measures so that rehearsals or events leading up to the parade can be held safely.

The latest decision last night came after the police announced road closures around the floating platform, such as at Raffles Avenue and Temasek Avenue, for tomorrow's rehearsal, which has now been postponed. The release was rescinded shortly after it was sent to the media yesterday.

NDP this year is planned to be a centralised, in-person event at the float. Precautions taken include having all participants and spectators be fully vaccinated.

Performers must undergo antigen rapid testing before every rehearsal - even while rehearsals take place in smaller groups than in years past - while spectators must undergo pre-event testing.

The plan was for spectators to be people who have worked on the front lines or in essential roles, or who have stepped up amid the pandemic, although the total audience size had not been announced.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in the first official comments about this year's NDP last month, had said that part of why NDP was to be held as a live event was the need to learn to live with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.

A combined rehearsal was held at the floating platform last Saturday, and the Red Lions parachutists made test jumps in Ghim Moh and Bishan on July 15.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2021, with the headline 'NDP postponed to Aug 21, after curbs end'. Subscribe