Covid-19: Singapore Tourism Board tightens rules on staycations, events and cruises

Only room service, takeaways and deliveries will be available for guests who booked staycations at hotels in Singapore from May 16 to June 13, 2021. ― Pexels pic via TODAY
Only room service, takeaways and deliveries will be available for guests who booked staycations at hotels in Singapore from May 16 to June 13, 2021. ― Pexels pic via TODAY

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SINGAPORE, May 15 — Families who planned for staycations that fall within the period of heightened controls for Covid-19 transmission will still be allowed to stay in a hotel room if there are more than two people in the household.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced in an advisory yesterday (May 14) that these family members will have to have the same address on their identity cards.

What is prohibited: More than two people, whether they are hotel guests or visitors, gathering on any one day in a room or in any pair of adjoining rooms where the connecting door or doors may be opened by guests during the stay. 

STB said in a Facebook post that guests who have made hotel bookings between May 16 and June 13 may change their booking dates or ask for a refund subject to terms and conditions.

SingapoRediscovers Vouchers used for such hotel bookings can be refunded. 

The validity date for attraction tickets and tours will be extended and that authorised booking partners and merchants will reach out to users to provide assistance.

From May 16 until June 13, the government is enforcing stricter rules to tackle the rising cases of Covid-19 spreading in the community that have no known sources of infection.

Some of the rules are that up to two people instead of five are allowed to gather for social activities and there may be only two social gatherings a day whether it is to a household or at a public place. And households will not be allowed to receive more than two distinct visitors a day.

Places offering food and drinks cannot allow dine-in customers and do only takeaway and deliveries.

Along the same vein, hotel guests on staycations cannot dine at food-and-beverage establishments on the premises, STB said.  

TODAY has asked STB how its advisory on staycations for households is consistent with the rule of two persons for social gatherings.

On how these new restrictions have affected its staycation bookings, Cinn Tan, chief sales and marketing officer of the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, said that guests will be able to choose in-room dining only if they want to have meals in the hotel.

Facilities for hotels under the group, including the gym and spa, will be closed until June 13. 

“Our reservations team are readily on hand to assist our guests with any requests for postponement so that guests could fully enjoy their staycations with their families, with the full range of activities and facilities at our hotels and serviced suites,” Tan said.

Existing bookings can be changed or cancelled for stays up to July 31 without penalty, she added.

Couples staycation

For Millennium Hotels and Resorts, its spokesperson said that for staycations, most couples are going ahead with their bookings while family bookings have mostly been postponed to later in the year.

Millennium Hotels and Resorts operates Orchard Hotel, M Social Singapore, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, Copthorne King’s Hotel, M Hotel and Studio M.

“Those whose bookings are for mid-June are adopting a wait-and-see attitude and will decide nearer the date on their plans.

“For this period, we will focus on couple staycations and continue to seek out long stay corporate business,” the spokesperson said.

The hotel group is exploring various activities to ensure that guests remain entertained in their rooms, such as an “art jamming” staycation package and providing virtual reality game consoles for couples to enjoy their staycations.

Kwee Wei-Lin, president of the Singapore Hotel Association, which represents 160 member hotels, said: “There is no doubt that these new measures will impact our industry, especially those with restaurant and banquet operations.

“While staycations are still permitted, some hotels have received cancellation requests.

“However, we recognise the adverse long-term implications if the Government does not make a decisive move to control the local community transmission now.”

Postponed wedding dates

Hotels are also managing the changes because of wedding banquets or solemnisation ceremonies that have been arranged earlier.

The revised Covid-19 regulations prohibit wedding receptions and banquets to be held.

Marriage solemnisations must be capped at a group size of 100 people subject to the venue’s capacity and attendees have to do pre-event testing. If not, up to 50 people are permitted.

Parveen Kumar, hotel manager at Grand Hyatt Singapore, said: “For those that are intending to continue with a wedding solemnisation for more than 50 people, our team of wedding planners will be offering all the information and assistance we can, and will link them up with approved pre-event testing clinics so that their ceremony can still move ahead.”

Millennium Hotels and Resorts said that about 80 per cent of affected couples from across its hotels have asked to postpone their weddings to after June 13.

“We will continue to work with couples on the best solutions and do what we can to support couples,” it said.

Over at Raffles Hotel Singapore, its managing director Christian Westbeld said that it will continue to “embrace full flexibility”.

“This is especially important during these tumultuous times,” Westbeld said.

“For weddings, cancellations will be handled with maximum care and sensitivity by offering fully refunded cancellations, penalty-free adjustments to attendance, change of venue or fully flexible postponements for weddings to be held at a later date.”

Cruise restrictions

For families who have booked cruises, STB said that the operating capacity for attractions and cruises will be reduced to 25 per cent.

Two cruise operators said that they are making some changes.

Dream Cruises told TODAY it will continue to operate its scheduled itineraries, though travelling groups will be limited to two guests for each cabin booking. 

Dine-in service at onboard restaurants will be temporarily suspended but takeaway and room service options will be available.

In addition, outdoor activities or any activities where participants cannot wear masks will undergo temporary suspension. 

“However, permitted onboard activities will continue to be available and operate at reduced capacity with enhanced social distancing and safe measures for guests’ enjoyment.”

Guests who are not comfortable with going ahead with their bookings will have the option to change to another cruise date or receive credits to be used in future or receive a full refund.

Another cruise operator Royal Caribbean said that it will also have a limit of two guests a room and occupancy in public areas will be reduced accordingly, allowing for at least 16 sqm for each guest.

Theatres will be limited to 50 attendees for each show.

Tightened limits will apply to all pools and hot tubs and also at its indoor activity venue SeaPlex.

For dining, there will be takeaway options and guests have choices for room service.

Passengers sailing in a group of more than two people or who would like to postpone their cruise due to the new regulations will be able to get a new date or opt for a future cruise credit.

Tours and other hotel events

STB specified that for all tours, the capacity stays at 20 people at most but the maximum number of people in a group within each such tour is capped at two persons.

This means that there should be a safe distance of at least 1m between each of such groups at all times with no intermingling between different groups at all times.

For indoor and outdoor shows at attractions, up to 100 attendees with pre-event testing are allowed. If not, it is a maximum of 50.

In handling other events besides wedding banquets and staycations, hotels will have to comply with other regulations.

― For meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) held in hotels, participants are capped at 100 with pre-event testing or 50 participants without

― For live performances held in hotels, up to 100 audience members with pre-event testing are allowed, up to 50 persons without

― For classes where participants are unmasked, these must be suspended. There are to be no classes for singing, or instruments that require intentional expulsion of air such as wind and brass instruments ― TODAY

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