SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Changi Airport will reopen Terminals 1 and 3 to the public from next Wednesday (Sept 1), following a three-month long closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Extra precautions are now in place to segregate arriving travellers from the public, with traveller numbers expected to increase as Singapore gradually eases its border restrictions.
For one, only arriving passengers and those providing professional meet-and-greet services will be allowed in the arrival halls.
Secondly, the air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation systems at the terminals have also been improved.
Thirdly, the airport has also set up a dedicated rest and dining area for airport staff to minimise their interaction with the public.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Changi Airport Group (CAG) announced the reopening in a statement on Friday (Aug 27).
CAAS director-general Han Kok Juan said: "We are satisfied with the safeguards put in place by CAG and the airport community for the reopening of Terminals 1 and 3.
"As Singapore takes cautious steps to further reopen our borders, we need to ensure that Changi Airport remains a safe airport for travellers coming into and transiting through."
CAAS will continue to review safety protocols at the airport based on the Covid-19 situation, he added.
T2 and T4 remain closed, however. Both have been closed since May last year amid a drastic fall in passenger numbers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are no immediate plans to reopen either terminal.
The two terminals, along with Jewel Changi Airport, were closed in May after a Covid-19 cluster was detected in T3. The cluster grew to 108 cases, 43 of whom were airport workers.
While Jewel Changi Airport reopened on June 14, about a month after its closure, T1 and T3 remained closed to the public so workers could get used to new safety procedures.
CAAS and CAG said on Friday that restricted use of the arrival halls complements the zonal segregation in the transit areas already in place at the airport since May.
They said only professional meet-and-greet services, such as those from hotels, transport services and company agents, will be allowed to receive arriving passengers from low-risk countries in the halls.
These representatives have to present the passenger’s flight itinerary to gain entry into the hall. Only one representative is allowed to pick up each arriving passenger group.
Other passengers from low-risk countries can arrange their own transport or be picked up by someone at the terminal’s arrival pick-up point. They can also opt for taxi services.
The current list of places deemed to be of low risk of Covid-19 infections are Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, New Zealand and Taiwan.
Passengers from countries outside of this list will be transported to stay-home notice facilities directly and will not be able to leave via the arrival hall, as per the current practice.
On the enhancement to air quality and safety at the airport, CAAS and CAG said this was done given the threat from more transmissible Covid-19 variants.
They said the hospital-grade filters and UV-C sanitisation systems are now installed in the air-conditioning systems at the airport.
CAG has also set up portable air purifiers with high-efficiency particulate air filters at the Kopitiam food court in T3, which was linked to several Covid-19 cases in May.
On the setting up of a dedicated area for airport staff, CAAS and CAG said that the airport has converted part of the T3 arrival hall into a staff rest area.
As a result, the food and beverage stores, as well as retail outlets located at the area will be temporarily closed to the public with this zonal segregation.
The airport has also set up a segregated dining area for staff at Basement 2 of T3. This is adjacent to the Kopitiam food court.
CAG chief executive Lee Seow Hiang said the airport will continue to work with the authorities and its partners to put in place safety measures to guard against Covid-19 transmission.
He also thanked the airport community for their perseverance and determination over the past few months.