The National Day Parade this year will not be anything like the previous years. Instead of thousands of Singaporeans attending and participating in the parade and celebrating the country's independence from Malaysia, only 150 spectators and 300 participants will be allowed in total at the Padang.

In view of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 27 lives, infecting nearly 50,000 people in Singapore, the country's 55th National Day program on August 9 will be divided into two segments — morning session at the Padang and an evening session at the Star Performing Arts Center Buona Vista with films and performances by Singaporeans. The day will culminate with a firework display.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives for the National Day parade along Marina Bay in Singapore August 9, 2018
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives for the National Day parade along Marina Bay in Singapore August 9, 2018 (representational) REUTERS/Edgar Su

Scaling Down of NDP

There were already hints of a trimmed-down version of the NDP. In place of around 5,000 to 6,000 participants, only 300 have been allowed. For spectators, they have been mostly advised to celebrate the day from home. Only 150 representatives of the society — 50 ministers and 100 from the general public — will be allowed to attend the programs. Those attending the parade and the evening show will be seated in three different places of 50 each to avoid crowding.

In addition, the presidential gun salute will take place at the Padang with the marching groups during the parade. But the marching groups have been cut down to just four from 38 last year as the Padang does not have the capacity to safely conduct them. Instead, many of the parades will be moved to different areas of the city-state and will be broadcast and streamed live on TV and online platforms.

However, there will be no change in the state flag flypast. Two Apache helicopters will escort the RSAF's Chinook helicopter which will carry the flag. Apart from that, six F-15 fighter planes will fly over Singapore in a delta formation to show the 'roar of unity' and a tribute to the frontline and essential workers of COVID-19.

"There's a careful balance to be struck. Obviously, you can't have for this year's NDP, which usually has a show, parade and ceremony components combined, and participants numbered in the thousands and the spectators numbered in the tens of thousands," Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen told media on Sunday, July 26.

Mandatory Swab Testing for Participants

The performers, who are already doing the rehearsals, have been swab tested for COVID-19 and they will be tested once again before the programs on August 9 to ensure safety. The first practice session took place on Sunday, July 26.

Apart from that, during the practice sessions, everyone must maintain at least a meter of distance if they are wearing a mask. If not, they must be one to two meters apart from each other. Dr Ng said that they must exercise strict discipline to avoid cohorting. However, singers and dancers won't need to wear a mask while performing.

Howitzer is fired during a 21-gun salute at the National Day parade along Marina Bay in Singapore August 9, 2018.
Front-line workers will receive presidential gun salute in the NDP REUTERS/Edgar Su

"We require our participants to take their temperature twice a day. We also ensure that all participants adhere to safety distancing," Parade Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Master Warrant Officer David Ling told media.

Tribute to COVID-19 Front-Line Workers

The theme of NDP2020 is focused on "Together, a stronger Singapore" with special tribute planned for the front-line workers of the Coronavirus pandemic. All the healthcare workers, including nurses, will receive a salute from the country's armed forces besides a presidential gun salute at Padang. They are the reason, why Singapore has been moderately successful in handling the "once in a generation" health crisis.

"We want to take this opportunity to pay our respects and gratitude to our unsung heroes, who have been working tirelessly since our nation was hit by the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Parade Commander LTC Nicholas Ong.

NDP2020 schedule
NDP 2020 schedule www.ndp.gov.sg