THE Singapore Grand Prix this weekend will go ahead as planned for now, despite the haze, its organisers said yesterday.
And according to the National Environment Agency (NEA), the haze could ease up before the Formula 1 night race begins.
"Based on the current PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) levels, there are no plans to amend the published racing and entertainment programme," Singapore GP said in a statement.
It added that it will work with the relevant authorities to get the best possible forecast of the PSI levels over the three-day event, which takes place from Friday to Sunday.
A number of measures have been put in place too. The PSI reading and the relevant health advisory will be displayed on the Singapore GP website, its mobile app and giant screens at the race site. This information will be broadcasted on the in-circuit radio system and posted at all entrances to Circuit Park.
N95 masks will be sold at cost price in the Park, and its medical and first-aid personnel are prepared to handle haze-related conditions.
Air quality will continue to be in the mid to high section of the unhealthy range (101 to 200) and may even enter the low-end of the very unhealthy range (201 to 300) for the next 24 hours, said government officials at a joint-agency briefing on the haze situation late yesterday afternoon. This is because of dry weather conditions.
But the situation may improve on Friday when wind patterns change, said NEA.
A storm in the South China Sea has brought a shift in the winds, which are currently blowing from the south-southwest direction, bringing the haze towards Singapore.
This is likely to continue until Friday, when wind patterns are expected to change. Improvement is expected when winds blow from the south-east on Friday.
With the south-west monsoon, expected to last until the middle of next month, Singapore will experience haze intermittently when winds blow from the south and south-west.
Another factor is the El Nino effect, which is expected to be strong this year. Currently, its intensity is moderate to strong, said NEA. The El Nino, which reduces rainfall in South-east Asia and causes hot and dry weather, means forests burn more readily.
To help Singaporeans affected by haze, the Haze Subsidy Scheme, which caps medical fees for haze-related conditions for children, the elderly, and lower to middle income groups, will be reactivated today, said the Ministry of Health at the briefing. The subsidies are available at more than 450 public health preparedness clinics and polyclinics.
The Manpower Ministry has also laid out a set of guidelines to help firms better implement haze-related contingency plans.
In the event of school closures due to the 24-hour PSI reaching hazardous levels (above 300), national examinations will be rescheduled and examination periods possibly extended, said the Education Ministry.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, who was at the briefing, hopes the haze will not be as bad as that in 2013, when the three-hour PSI hit 401 once. He said Singapore is working to identify the firms responsible for causing the haze.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.