Blue skies draw many outdoors

SINGAPORE - Civil servant Syafiq Mahfudz and teacher Fauziah Alang donned their wedding suit and gown on Saturday.

Their destination: Gardens by the Bay.

The sight of blue skies in the afternoon meant they did not have to postpone their wedding photo shoot.

"The low PSI is the only reason we could take the photos," said Mr Syafiq, 27.

The couple were among the many who basked in the sun on Saturday as the PSI dramatically plunged to its lowest levels in a week from a "hazardous" 326 at 10am to a "moderate" 73 at 5pm and 6pm on Saturday.

In many places, it was much like an average Saturday, save for the occasional sight of N95 masks on the street.

A Resorts World Sentosa spokesman said visitor numbers to Universal Studios Singapore and S.E.A Aquarium were "as good as usual" on Saturday. The cooled domes at Gardens by the Bay had a "slight but steady pick-up" in visitors.

Businesses such as SeaBreeze Water-Sports at Sentosa reopened to guest bookings - albeit with health advisories intact.

Marina Bay was also bustling as diners returned to al fresco joints while others chilled out along the promenade, sneaked a peek at the ongoing National Day Parade (NDP) rehearsals or attended YFest, a youth festival at the Esplanade.

The Marina Bay Sands Skypark was also noticeably crowded.

Among those there was national serviceman Jimmy Chan, 21, who was to pass out from the Specialist Cadet School on Friday. But the ceremony was cancelled due to record-high PSI levels.

"It was a huge disappointment that my parents could not help me pin on the stripes," he told The Sunday Times. But he was happy to be able to have caught the NDP rehearsal and the fighter jets that roared past.

Tourists like Mr Byron Albrecht, an inventory planner from Sydney, said they were "disappointed" that their visit had coincided with the worst haze episode in Singapore's history.

Many wound up doing indoor activities such as shopping.

Mr Albrecht, who is here on a four-day work trip, said he could not go for a run around MacRitchie Reservoir nor visit Sentosa. But the respite on Saturday meant he could visit the Marina Barrage with an old friend, stay-at-home mother Anita Kasad, 36. He returns to Australia today.

But some were more circumspect about the abating haze.

Shipping assistant Sabrina Quek, 50, who was at Gardens by the Bay with her family on Saturday, said they were heading indoors after the visit.

She said: "The haze can come back any time as the winds can change. We have kids around, so we don't want to take the risk."