SINGAPORE - More than 400 music fans turned up at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) for a pop concert on Friday (Dec 18), the biggest music event with a live audience since measures to curb the pandemic kicked in earlier this year.
In line with the Ministry of Health's pilot of pre-event testing, everyone in the audience had to have a negative antigen rapid or polymerase chain reaction test result before they were allowed into the venue.
The 9pm show, featuring singers Benjamin Kheng, Sezairi, Narelle, Linying and rapper TheLionCityBoy, was the first of a two-night concert titled Back To Live. The second concert will take place in the same venue on Saturday (Dec 19).
The concertgoers were seated in groups of up to five, and intermingling between groups was not allowed. The groups were seated at least 1m apart. Single ticket holders were also seated a safe distance from other concertgoers.
The antigen rapid tests were free for members of the audience, who each paid $55 for single-night tickets or $98 for two-day tickets.
Those who bought tickets to both nights took their swab tests at a ballroom in Marina Bay Sands from 5.30pm to 7.30pm and received their results half an hour later.
The rest took their tests elsewhere at designated clinics earlier on the same day.
Ms Mina Liu, a 33-year-old designer who was taking the swab test for the first time, was one of the first to arrive for the test at MBS.
She said: "The whole process of taking the test was smoother than I imagined. It stung a little but it was quick and easy for me, and I was in and out within five minutes."
Product designer Luqman Mohamed, 31, said he did not mind being tested as it was important to have safety measures for a large-scale event like the concert.
"It gives me comfort to know that everyone in the concert hall around me has tested negative."
There were others such as Ms Sabrina Ooi who found it inconvenient to have to rush from work to reach the venue early for testing.
Still, the 30-year-old founder of a start-up that focuses on mental health says getting to experience a concert live again was worth the hassle.
"The test was quick and comfortable; the swab only went in 2.5cm up my nose. The previous tests that I had went in even further. But I'm just glad to be here. It's about time concerts are back - we're all already going to restaurants and weddings anyway."
The Back To Live concerts are organised by concert organisers AEG Presents and events agency Collective Minds, and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board
Friday's concert also marked the reopening of the Sands Theatre, which can hold up to 2,155 guests and had been closed during the circuit breaker.
More concerts with live audiences will be staged in the coming weeks. These include Flock - The Xmas Edition at Pasir Panjang Power Station on Dec 20 that features home-grown acts Nathan Hartono, Aisyah Aziz and Lorong Boys; and concert series AL!VE, featuring Singaporean artists such as Jeremy Monteiro, Jimmy Ye and Art Fazil at Capitol Theatre that will take place in January and February.