Singapore Launches Quarantine Free Business Bubble

On Thursday, after four months of construction, the first-of-its-kind quarantine-free hotel and business center opened in Singapore. Deploying a rigorous testing regimen, early detection strategies, automatic contact tracing, and airtight partitions, Connect@Changi hopes to provide business travelers with peace of mind while meeting in person again.

Connect@Changi courtyard
The world’s first quarantine-free business hotel and meeting center has opened in Singapore. Photo: Connect@Changi

Third solution to a binary equation

Necessity is the mother of invention. Singapore has come up with a solution to accommodate business travelers who still need to meet in person rather than see each other in little squares on a screen, trying to figure out who needs to unmute whom. The Connect@Changi initiative is the first ‘test-stay-work-meet’ quarantine-free hotel and conference center worldwide.

The dedicated bubble facility opened its first phase yesterday with 150 guest rooms and 40 meeting rooms. The smallest of the latter can accommodate four, and the largest 22 people. When the project is completed, it will have space for 1,300 business travelers in 660 guest rooms and 170 meeting spaces.

“Without such a facility, travel options are essentially binary – either stay at home due
to travel restrictions, or fly overseas and endure long periods in quarantine,” Robin Hu, Head, Sustainability and Stewardship Group of Temasek, the holding company which includes Changi Airport and The Ascott.

“After close to 4 months of intense, round-the-clock construction and collaboration with our partners, various government agencies, vendors and subcontractors, we are now
ready to offer business travellers the option of resuming in-person meetings in a safe
and contained manner, and do our part to catalyse economic recovery for Singapore
and across the region,” Mr Hu continued.

Connect@Changi reception
Travelers will be taken to the hotel’s reception in a dedicated vehicle. Photo: Connect@Changi

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Continued testing throughout the stay

The unique hotel and business center occupy the former space of Hall 7 of the Singapore Expo. To be allowed to check-in, travelers will first need to have taken a PCR-test upon arrival at Changi Airport. After passing through immigration, they are then escorted to the entrance in a dedicated vehicle.

When checking in, temperature checks are carried out. Travelers will then need to stay in their room for about six hours while awaiting the PCR-test results. If it is negative, they may move freely about the facilities. Should it be positive, they will instead be transferred to a medical clinic.

However, testing does not end there. Guests must take additional tests on days three, seven, and fourteen. Appointments for the test can be booked via the hotel’s app.  Meanwhile, this is not the only COVID-prevention measure in place.

Room Connect@Changi
Guests must stay in their rooms until they receive their PCR-test results. Photo: Connect@Changi

Living laboratory

Dubbed a ‘living laboratory’ by its originators, Connect@Changi will deploy several virus-management strategies. These include wastewater testing for early detection as well as automated contact tracing within the facility and additional use of the latest technology rapid-tests to support the slower procedure of the PCR schedules.

The whole project is considered a pilot for how Singapore’s hotels and centers could potentially move forward towards opening up for visitors on a larger scale.

Connect@Changi meeting room
The meeting rooms have airtight separation panels between arriving participants and local visitors. Photo: Connect@Changi

Airtight separation between arrivals and locals

Local day-guests will not need to test to enter the facilities. There are completely separate entrances, exits, and even ventilation-systems for Singapore-based visitors and those arriving from abroad. Meeting rooms are fitted with airtight separations.

In order to minimize contact between staff and guests, meeting rooms will be self-service, and meals will be delivered to guest rooms on pre-installed shelves outside the doors. Guests will have access to the hotel’s fitness facility, the Gym Pod, which they can book via the Connect@Changi app.

What do you think of this new way of business travel? Will we see more facilities like Connect@Changi? Would you stay at one? Let us know in the comments.