'More modest' Christmas light-up on Orchard Road amid pandemic

THIS year's Christmas light-up on Orchard Road will take place on a "more modest scale" and include virtual elements to minimise the chances of crowds gathering amid the pandemic, said organiser Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) on Monday.

For instance, the lighting display, which will be up from Nov 13 to Jan 1, 2021, can be viewed through a 360-degree virtual tour for the first time.

Also, the light-up ceremony, which will be held by ORBA and Community Chest, will be a closed-door event at Ion Orchard shopping mall. But it will be live-streamed on Community Chest's Facebook page and YouTube channel.

This year, there will be no Great Christmas Village, which in previous years has featured food trucks, amusement rides, game booths and performances.

"Christmas on A Great Street is an event that many look forward to every year as it brings people together to celebrate the holidays and season of giving. We are grateful to be able to continue this long-established tradition, albeit on a more modest scale," said ORBA chairman Mark Shaw.

Still, this year's Christmas decorations, spanning nearly 2.9 kilometres from Tanglin Mall to Dhoby Ghaut, will require about 10,300 man hours to put up. The decorations took about 68,200 man hours to produce.

The centrepiece will be a 14 metre-high arch with a gift box wrapping design at the junction of Orchard Road and Scotts Road. The rest of the decorations will feature intertwined hollies and mistletoes in various hues.

ORBA said it is unable to disclose the cost of setting up the Christmas light-up annually due to confidentiality agreements. Hitachi Asia remains the event's main sponsor for the 30th year.

This year, ORBA will also work with Lions of Healthcare and other partners to recognise the contributions of frontline workers including healthcare personnel, security guards, delivery staff and teachers, such as by offering them promotions for shopping, dining and services. More information will be released in November.

The event follows a recent pick-up in retail sales, although watchers have said that retail sales are unlikely to return to growth territory soon.

Retail receipts in July improved by 27.4 per cent on the month before, with Singapore moving to the second phase of a three-stage reopening, but overall till takings were still down by 8.5 per cent year on year, according to the Department of Statistics last month.

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