Speakers' Corner reopened for events after two-year closure due to pandemic

NParks has already received six applications for events at the Speakers' Corner. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park has reopened for events after almost two years of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Applicants, however, must ensure the size of the crowd does not exceed 950 people at a time, according to the application form hosted on the website of the National Parks Board (NParks), which manages the park located in the Clarke Quay area.

NParks said it started taking applications for events there on Wednesday (March 23) and has already received six.

The Speakers' Corner, which is the only place in Singapore where protests can legally be held, has been closed since April 2020 when the country imposed a circuit breaker period to curb the spread of Covid-19.

NParks group director for parks Sophianne Araib told The Straits Times that applications to hold events at the park were reopened in line with overall relaxations to Singapore's Covid-19 restrictions announced on Thursday.

Smaller settings or events with up to 1,000 people will be allowed to proceed without any capacity limits. The capacity limit for events with more than 1,000 people will be raised to 75 per cent, from the current 50 per cent.

Group size limits will also increase from five to 10, and masks will be optional outdoors.

The board said that all applicants will be required to adhere to prevailing safe management measures.

Organisers of the yearly pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) event Pink Dot told ST that the event fully intends to return to Hong Lim Park in June, and they will confirm the date later.

A spokesman said: "As Singapore's only physical space for protests, the reopening of the Speakers' Corner holds great significance for Pink Dot and the wider LGBTQ+ community.

"This is especially so this year, following the Court of Appeal's disappointing decision on 377A. We hope the public will join us in making a stand for a fairer and more equal Singapore."

Pink Dot was one of the largest gatherings at Hong Lim Park in recent years, with pre-pandemic events swelling to over 20,000 participants.

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