Changi Airport workers to be segregated into three zones
Younger, fully vaccinated workers will be deployed to the highest-risk area
Changi Airport Group (CAG) has taken steps to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection while still maintaining Singapore's links with the rest of the world.
It will segregate some 14,000 airport workers into three distinct zones and impose stricter measures to ensure that the 4,400 workers in the highest-risk zone are protected from Covid-19 and isolated from other staff and the public.
These measures include testing workers more frequently, deploying only younger and vaccinated workers in the highest-risk zone and ensuring they wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.
Travellers from "very high-risk" countries will be escorted to remote gates at Terminal 2 - which is currently closed for renovation - for immigration clearance and Covid-19 testing, before they are transported directly to their quarantine facility from the gate by bus, said CAG yesterday.
CAG did not specify these "very high-risk" countries, saying only that the risk assessment is dynamic.
The new measures are being introduced progressively and will be fully in place when Changi Airport Terminals 1 and 3, as well as Jewel Changi, reopen to the public on June 13.
CAG chief executive Lee Seow Hiang said this is a fundamental redesign of the airport's operating processes and is based on the assumption that transient contact with all incoming travellers - previously deemed to be low risk - is actually risky.
This also comes after a cluster of more than 100 people, many of whom had contracted the more infectious B1617 variant, emerged this month.
CAG found that 23 of the 43 infected staff in the airport cluster worked near the arrival gates. They were found to be spread out in the arrival zone, suggesting this was where the "primary infection" occurred.
Hence, from June 13, the departure and arrival gates, arrival immigration halls and baggage claim halls will be considered the highest-risk areas (Zone 1) in the airport, CAG said.
The departure immigration areas and the central transit areas of the airport are the next lower-risk areas (Zone 2), while public meeting areas in the airport will be considered the lowest risk (Zone 3).
Airport workers will be cohorted so as to avoid cross-deployment.
Those working in Zone 1 cannot leave their zone during their shift and will also have to wear full personal protective equipment. There will be 14 dedicated dining and rest areas for these workers.
In addition, only younger, fully vaccinated workers will be deployed to Zone 1.
CAG said it is aiming to get more than 90 per cent of Zone 2 and Zone 3 workers vaccinated in the coming weeks.
Mr Lee said that more than 90 per cent of front-line staff have received both vaccine doses, while the vaccination rate among general airport workers was in the high 80s.
The testing regime for workers will be stepped up as well.
Zone 1 workers will need to take a polymerase chain reaction test every seven days, up from the current 14 days, and undergo a rapid antigen test on the third day.