Changi Airport's T1, T3 open to public for first time in over 100 days
Changi Airport's Terminals 1 and 3 opened their doors to the public for the first time in more than 100 days, ahead of the start of eased border measures for vaccinated travellers.
More than 80 per cent of the stores at the two terminals restarted operations yesterday, with the rest expected to reopen soon, putting an end to the closures prompted by a Covid-19 cluster in May.
While the airport's passenger terminal buildings were closed to the public for more than three months, flights continued to take off and land, although at a much-reduced scale.
Only 204,000 passengers passed through the airport's gates in July, compared with 5.91 million in July 2019, before the pandemic hit.
With traffic expected to gradually pick up, extra precautions have been put in place, such as the segregation of the dining areas in Basement 2 of Terminal 3 (T3) to reduce interactions between airport staff and the public at mealtimes.
Members of the public are not allowed in the arrival halls to avoid direct contact between them and arriving passengers.
The reopening of T1 and T3 to the public coincides with the expected increase in travellers to Singapore in the coming months.
A travel lane for vaccinated travellers from Germany and Brunei will start on Sept 8, allowing these travellers to come into Singapore without quarantine if they take and clear several Covid-19 tests.
Further easing of border measures could be on the cards, as the Republic has reached the milestone of having 80 per cent of its population fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Aviation analyst Shukor Yusof of Endau Analytics noted, however, that while the reopening of the terminals is good optics, it will not alter the reality that the world is still under siege from the coronavirus.
"Singapore is doing whatever it can, but the wider world is still dysfunctional when it comes to Covid-19 coordination and containment," he said.
Airport staff are relieved that they can return to work.
Ms Pamela Loo-Song, director of retail and local sales at Focus Network Agencies, which runs chocolate retailer The Cocoa Trees and has stores at the airport, said: "There was some anxiety about whether the airport would really reopen… as I was walking to the store today, it did feel very surreal."
Changi Airport Group senior vice-president for landside concessions James Fong said the airport has disinfected all its stores, and all its workers have tested negative for Covid-19 in recent days.
He acknowledged that some people might still be concerned about the risk of infection after the T3 Covid-19 cluster in May.
The cluster grew to 108 cases, including 43 airport workers.
But Mr Fong said the airport has already taken thorough measures to keep the public safe.
"The vaccination strategy… has helped us, and now we are working closely with the Government to reopen the borders again, so all these give us optimism," he said.