SINGAPORE – Sentosa’s beaches were filled with people on Sunday (Oct 4), about two weeks before guests will be required to book their visits during peak periods.

Groups of friends and families were spotted at Palawan, Siloso and Tanjong beaches, where some sun-tanned, played volleyball or held picnics. Others took to the water, swimming or kayaking close to the shore.

For university students Charlene Lee, 19, and Nicole Lin, 20, the upcoming reservation requirement was one of the reasons for their visit to Siloso beach on Sunday.

“In the future, we would be too lazy to book,” Ms Lin said.

Since July, the island’s three beaches have been segmented into seven zones, each with a capacity limit ranging between 100 and 350 people to allow for safe distancing.

The zones also have specific entry and exit points, where visitors are required to check-in and check-out using the SafeEntry digital system.

On Sunday, other safe management measures were in place at the beaches, such as “safety rings” which indicated spots where groups of up to five may gather.

Safe distancing ambassadors were also seen patrolling the beaches.

At the Palawan and Siloso beach zones, visitors were issued with wrist bands upon admission. These allowed them access only to the respective zone where they had been given the bands.

A Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) spokesman told The Straits Times that the wristbands have been progressively introduced to familiarise Sentosa’s beachgoers with the upcoming booking requirement.

From Oct 17, beachgoers will be required to make online bookings ahead of their visits during peak periods, such as weekends and public holidays.

Beachgoers queueing up to enter Palawan beach on Oct 4, 2020. They have to check in via SafeEntry and wear a paper tag on their wrists. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

In a statement last month, SDC said the online reservation system will begin accepting bookings from Oct 10, for visits commencing Oct 17. It will be trialled for an initial period of three months.

Guests may book their entry to a zone up to seven days before their intended beach visit, subject to capacity limits.

They may choose from two time slots to visit – in the morning (8am to 1pm), or in the afternoon (2pm to 7pm ) – and make reservations for up to five people in each booking.

On the day of visit, guests would receive wristbands at the beach entry kiosk of their selected zone, after presenting their booking confirmation e-mail for verification.

Some beachgoers ST spoke to said the booking requirement would deter them from visiting the beaches.

University student Terence Lee, 24, expects he will visit the beaches less frequently once it takes effect.

“Usually I just come when I am free… I do not know my schedule in advance,” said Mr Lee, who also works part-time.

The time slots might not be available for booking when he decides to go to the beaches, he added.

A safe-distancing ambassador speaking to a group at Palawan beach on Oct 4, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Full-time national serviceman Faliq Shazran and his girlfriend, Ms Nurul Amirah Ali, both 22, said having to make a booking would make visits to Sentosa’s beaches inconvenient.

However, Ms Nurul said the measure would help to prevent situations where visitors had to wait their turn to go to beaches that have reached their capacity limit.

Agreeing that booking is necessary is a 40-year-old financial controller who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim.

“People would not waste their trip coming down,” he said.

He also said that he will continue to visit Sentosa’s beaches with his family and is already planning to do so during the year-end school holidays.

“We have no place (else) to go,” he added.