COVID tests piloted by Singapore authorities to restart business events for up to 250 people began as a major energy conference opened.
Delegates attending Singapore International Energy Week at Marina Bay Sands must undergo antigen rapid tests (ART) which provide results within 30 minutes.
Energy Week, organised by the Singapore Energy Marketing Authority, is viewed as a key event in the gradual re-opening of conferences and business events in order to revive the city state’s economy.
The event is the first for up to 250 people under Singapore Tourism Board’s Safe Business Events Framework guidelines and the first in which pre-event Covid testing is applied.
Those taking the tests, which are conducted with swabs, download a contact-tracing app and await their results before entering the conference.
Meetings take place in zones of up to 50 people with mask-wearing mandatory and delegates grouped five to a table and seated a metre apart from one another.
Anyone with a positive result is directed to an isolated site for the more sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result.
Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s trade and industry minister, said at the opening of the conference: “This has been in the making for a long while. We are back in business. Different format, but same spirit.”
ART, or antigen rapid testing, is increasingly seen as vital to reviving conferences, exhibitions and trade shows worldwide. Calls have been made for its use in Hong Kong and globally by exhibition organisers association UFI, and the United States-based SISO, the Society for Independent Show Organisers.
Singapore International Energy Week goes ahead following a period that has included a partial lockdown for two months across the city state, mandatory mask use and outdoor gatherings limited to five people. Daily cases have recently been declining to low-single digits or zero.
After marquee events such as Singapore Grand Prix and a series of conferences were cancelled or went online, Energy Week is seen by authorities as a benchmark for letting larger events go ahead under precautions.
Singapore Fintech Festival in December will be the next major business event using a hybrid model, according to reports. The event attracted about 60,000 participants in 2019.