After an engagement session between the National Arts Council (NAC), the police and the busking community, buskers are now allowed to perform at four locations in Orchard Road in December.
The four sites are The Heeren, Mandarin Gallery, Knightsbridge and 313@Somerset – all prominent busking spots on Orchard Road.
Previously, Singapore buskers were told by authorities that they would not be allowed to perform at several locations (including the four) on Orchard Road from 7pm to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays in December.
This was due to public safety concerns following the Itaewon incident in Seoul where more than 150 people died from being crushed in the crowd.
The easing of the restrictions now allows buskers to perform at the four locations every day in December anytime between 10am and 10pm, but on Christmas Eve, busking is only allowed from 10am to 7pm there.
However, busking will remain prohibited outside ION Orchard, Wisma Atria and Ngee Ann City after 7pm on Friday and Saturday between Dec. 9 and 31.
The police also emphasized that the Orchard Road area will be extremely crowded, especially on Christmas Eve, even without the busking. They mentioned that they are working with the relevant stakeholders on various measures.
According to them, the unique terrain features on Orchard Road and limited access points in and out of the area might increase the risk of a crowd crush or stampede. As happened during the Itaewon incident, when crowds get agitated, people might start rushing for the exits whether or not there is a real emergency.
The police felt that the presence of the buskers would cause people to stop and crowds to form in already crowded paths, which would reduce the passable space and impedes crowd flow.
Christmas is the busiest time in Orchard Road, where people flock to see the festive lights and shops stay open a little later for Christmas shopping.