The Singapore government will implement segregation of World Economic Forum Special Annual Meeting attendees from the local population — among other measures — in view of the city-state’s role as host in May, said Minister of State for the Ministry for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan in Parliament on Tuesday (5 January).
The special annual meeting, slated to take place from 25 to 28 May, is set to become the first global leadership event to address recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will bring together the world’s top leaders in government, business, and academia.
The meeting will also have, for the first time, a virtual component to allow greater participation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the second time the WEF special annual meeting will be held outside of Switzerland and the first time in Asia since the forum was established in 1971.
However, given the precarious situation of a global pandemic, there are concerns on how Singapore will manage a major, in-person event with participants from across the globe.
Yio Chu Kang SMC Member of Parliament (MP) Yip Hon Weng asked the Minister for Trade and Industry on how safety and health requirements will be implemented for participants attending the forums.
He also asked what contingency plans, if any, the Government has in place should the COVID-19 outbreak situation in Singapore worsen as a result of the forum and leads to border closures again.
Stressing that the health and safety of both the attendees and the local community are of “utmost importance”, Mr Tan replied that attendees will adhere to prevailing public health requirements and safe management measures.
The Tanjong Pagar GRC MP explained that the measures include “a rigorous testing regime including pre-departure and on-arrival testing as well as strict safe management measures during the meeting itself”.
“Now, to minimise that risk of seeding local transmissions, we will also put in place measures to manage the interactions between the local community and the even attendees,” he added.
Mr Tan went on to say that specific public health requirements and contingency plans are still being worked out and that the Government will take into consideration the latest COVID-19 situation in Singapore and globally.
The first-time Minister highlighted that the health requirements developed for this particular event could serve as a crucial reference for subsequent events held in Singapore.
Mr Tan also stressed that the intent of the WEF Special Annual Meeting is to show greater focus in Asia, given the region’s growing importance and economic weight in the global economy.
Addressing Mr Yip’s question on the extent of Singaporean talents’ involvement in organising the event, Mr Tan said that they have been introducing interested local companies and providers to the WEF and its contracted event organiser, PublicisLive.
He said, “This is to explore potential partnerships between our local companies and service providers and well as Publicis, an event organiser.”
“So it will also be a good chance for us to showcase how Singapore has made it possible throughout efforts to maintain robust health protocols while sustaining important economic and business activity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Tan added.
As a follow-up, Mr Yip asked if there were plans to require the majority of the Singapore public to be vaccinated before the event in May.
Mr Tan responded that the availability and roll out of vaccines both globally and in Singapore are still being worked out.
“We will continue to evaluate the situation with these roll out program, either locally as well as globally, and apply the prevailing conditions to all incoming travellers to Singapore,” he added, stressing again the special plans to segregate the local population from the forum attendees.