SINGAPORE – Without fear of spreading the coronavirus, Singapore has been testing a ‘bubble’ business hotel that will allow quarantined executives arriving in the country to conduct face-to-face meetings and even exchange documents. The bubble was set up in an exhibition venue near Changi airport in the city-state and has separate air ducts for tourists and guests, plus hundreds of conference rooms with screens separating those in quarantine with other participants who communicate via a speaker.
It also has a special compartment through which it is possible to safely transfer documents and other objects from one side of the room to the other, through a UV light that sanitises the contents.
“It wasn’t long before we realized that the pandemic was likely to have a really long tail, and possibly lasting for years, so therefore it was a problem looking for solutions,” said Robin Hu of state investment firm Temasek, which came up with the idea.
The facility can host 150 guests and deliver 40 meeting rooms when it opens next month. It seeks to increase that by May to 660 guest rooms and 170 meeting rooms.
Rooms cost a minimum of S$384 ($290) per night.
Guests will be expected to undergo five swab tests during the two-week quarantine process, one in the country of departure, one on arrival and three.
The original bookings came predominantly from business travelers, Hu said, but the face-to-face format also created interest from others.
“We have also had inquiries from parents who have kids studying here in Singapore, whom they haven’t met for an entire year,” he said.
“If we are doing some good to parents to relieve their anxiety, and I think we’ll be doing something good as well.”
Regional market hub Singapore has kept a close lid on its coronavirus infections due to strictly enforced curbs and tight quarantine measures, despite clusters appearing in migrant workers’ dormitories last year.