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Changi Airport Terminals 1 and 3 reopen to the public, shops 'excited' to welcome visitors

SINGAPORE — Terminals 1 and 3 of Changi Airport reopened to the public on Wednesday (Sept 1), with retailers and airport workers excited and happy to welcome visitors again.

SINGAPORE — Terminals 1 and 3 of Changi Airport reopened to the public on Wednesday (Sept 1), with retailers and airport workers excited and happy to welcome visitors again.

Many hope that the September school holidays, which begin on Saturday, will help their businesses pick up again.

Mr Dushantha Baduge, duty terminal manager, said: "It was quite an exciting day for us. At least we see some life in the airport now, compared to the past few months."

Mr SR Jegan, also a duty terminal manager, said: "We definitely wanted to see members of the public back in the airport, and especially to see travel kick off again. You know, the joy of travelling. We were excited. Our whole unit was looking forward to it."

The two terminals were closed to non-travellers for more than three months, after a cluster of Covid-19 cases was identified at the airport.

More than 80 per cent of the stores in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 have reopened, Changi Airport Group (CAG) said.

To attract more members of the public, free parking will be offered at Terminal 3 until Oct 10. Destination photo spots will also be available in both terminals, with most located in Terminal 3, until Oct 10.

During a tour of Terminal 3 on Wednesday, the departure area had just a handful of visitors, most of whom were strolling around taking photos.

On the other hand, visitors packed into food-and-beverage (F&B) outlets such as Starbucks, Old Town White Coffee and Mr Teh Tarik Express.

Located at basement level two, Mr Teh Tarik Express had almost a full house when CNA visited around noon. It had remained open during the last three-and-a-half months for airport staff members.

Mr Tommy Ng, its business development manager, said: "Sales has been picking up since morning... There's a pick-up of sales of more than 20 per cent today as compared to when the airport was closed.

"We do see visitors coming in to dine in or take away (their food)... The staff had been looking forward to the opening."

Mr Ng wanted to reassure the public that the shop has safety measures in place, including 1m distancing between tables and its staff members disinfect tables after a customer leaves. 

Over at Collin's Grille restaurant, the team was "excited" to welcome visitors to its Terminal 3 branch again.

Its chief executive officer Collin Ho said: "It's great to be back in business after a long closure... We are fortunate to have other outlets open and during this period, we trained our staff and upskilled them to get them ready for (Terminal 3's) reopening. 

"Operations today (have been) quite smooth. The team is excited to be here again and they've started to fire up the oven in the kitchen."

Mr Ho added that some staff members were transferred to other outlets during Terminal 3's closure.

The restaurant is running a promotion to welcome back customers, who are mostly families, airport employees and residents who live in the East, Mr Ho said.


Some retail stores were not seeing increased footfall when CNA visited earlier in the day.

Ms Pamela Loo, director of retail and local sales at The Cocoa Trees, which sells chocolate and confectionery brands, said that it has not "really seen much of the family crowd".

Its employees are expecting families to return this weekend when the school holidays begin, she said. The team was happy when it heard confirmation that Terminal 3 was reopening, because there had been no certainty on when this would happen.

Over the last three months, the store's closure brought back memories of the "circuit breaker" period last year when non-essential businesses were halted. The company reassured employees about their job security and what their plans were as a company, Ms Loo said.

Having been through changes "quite a few times", her staff members have coped better with the closure and reopening of Terminal 3.

Ms Loo said: "We're all very happy that (the reopening of Terminal 3) happened. We were a bit unsure over the last two weeks because (Covid-19) cases (in Singapore) were picking up again. The airport is relatively high risk because we're the frontline, so there was some anxiety whether (we) would really reopen.

"Just nice, (it's in time) for the school holidays. During the school holidays, we do see a sizeable family crowd... There's quite a lot to do here. Jewel (the airport's leisure complex) is also close by. There are so many F&B options... We're quite positive that over the next week or so, we'll see a good comeback."

However, some employees' family members were concerned about them returning to work at the airport, especially after the cluster was detected, Ms Loo added.

"So it was helpful that our transit shops opened first (in July). We had a bit of a 'rehearsal' because inside (the departure gates), it is even more high-risk than here. So we had those shops open first and with all the added measures, that was like a pre-run before everything picked up again."


Mr James Fong, senior vice-president of CAG's landside concessions team, said that to reassure the public, "comprehensive safety measures" have been implemented.

"We have thoroughly disinfected all the (stores) and the airport common areas. All the staff have been recently tested negative before starting work... (within) the past two to three days. They also go for routine testing, which gives us the added assurance," he said.

At the Terminal 3 arrival hall, parts of the area have been converted into a rest area for staff members. The F&B and retail outlets at Terminal 3's arrival hall will be temporarily closed to the public with this zonal segregation.

A new dedicated dining area for airport workers has been set up at Terminal 3's basement level two, next to the Kopitiam food court. This is to minimise their interaction with members of the public, CAG and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said previously.

"This reserved staff area will give airport workers the convenience of not having to hunt for a table at the food court, especially during busy meal times," they said last week.

The terminals’ air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation systems have also been enhanced given the threat from the more transmissible Covid-19 variants.

These safety measures aim to give visitors "peace of mind" to freely visit the departure halls and Terminal 3's basement to shop and have their meals, CAG and CAAS said.

Speaking to CNA at the staff dining area, Mr Nigel Ng, who administer Covid-19 swab tests at the airport, was happy that people get to visit the terminals that they "so dearly miss for the last few months".

"It feels a bit unusual, considering how the airport has been empty for the past few months. It's going to take awhile for us to reacclimatise ourselves to this new normal.

"But (being able to visit the terminals) will definitely provide a sense of normalcy to Singaporeans, even though they cannot fly. It's better than nothing," he added. CNA

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Changi Airport Covid-19 shopping retail Terminal 1 Terminal 3 F&B

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