The people who are found to be in breach of elevated safe distancing measures will face a stern written warning, while they may face fine of $300 for the second offence. Subsequent offences may result in offenders being charged in court. This starts from Thursday (9 April), says Minister for Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) Masagos Zulkifli.
Mr Masagos took to his Facebook page on Thursday to announced this stepped up enforcement, urging everyone to be cooperative during the ‘circuit breaker’ period.
He wrote, “There are still many people who are not taking the COVID-19 situation seriously. Some are even uncooperative, insisting on dining in at eating places, not maintaining a safe distance when queuing in markets, and gathering in parks to eat or exercise together.”
He then urged the people to stay at home while practicing social distancing of keeping 1 metre apart from others.
“Remind your family members, especially the elderly, to stay at home. They are the most vulnerable, and we need to protect them. Remind also the young, who are out of school during this period, to meet their friends online, and not gather in person. Young or old — none of us are immune,” he stressed.
Mr Masagos had also published a Facebook post on Wednesday (8 Apr) calling for people to take the ‘circuit breaker’ measure with “utmost seriousness” and warned that anyone caught gathering in public by Environment Officers (EO) will be issued a written warning immediately before dispersing them, and subsequent offenders will be fined or prosecuted in court.
Noting that EO have issued 3,000 written advisories on the second day of ‘circuit breaker’, which are less than 7,000 on the first day, Mr Masagos reasoned that it was because the groups are dispersed when they advised by EO.
He mentioned that especially in the market, a good number of people failed to comply with social distancing when queuing, cautioning, “These are where clusters of infections can be born.”
According to MEWR, three written stern warnings and total of 10,000 written advisories have been issued to members of public for failure to comply with safe distancing measures during the first two days of the ‘circuit breaker’ period.
It was said that most of the written advisories were issued in hawker centres, markets and across Housing Development Board (HDB) public spaces.
One of the written stern warnings, MEWR said “It has involved a male at Block 89 Red Hill Close who sat down on a marked seat to take his meal. When asked to leave, he moved to another table to continue eating.”
MEWR discouraged the public from visit popular wet markets and to only shop for essential items on weekdays at non-peak hours to prevent crowding.
“We urge the elderly to stop visiting the wet markets, and to get others to help if they need food or essential items. This is to protect our elderly, who are the most vulnerable,” it said.
MEWR said in a joint operation with HDB that the Singapore Food Agency and the Singapore Police Force as well as Auxiliary Police will carry out patrols in areas where people have been observed loitering and sitting for hours at night.
“Members of public are strongly urged to comply with the elevated safe distancing measures imposed from 7 April to 4 May 2020. Non-compliance is an offence,” it added.
All social gatherings of any size will be prohibited under the new COVID-19 Bill; offenders can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed up to six months
It was reported that a 71 year-old man has been arrested on first day of ‘circuit breaker’ as he insisted on having his lunch at the void deck and shouted at the police after being advised to return home.
The man brought his packed lunch to eat at the void deck at Block 28, Bendemeer Road, and later was asked to have his lunch at home and not loiter in public unnecessarily by the police officers who happened to patrol at that area.
However, the man “refused to heed” the advice of police officers and shouted at them.
“He remained uncooperative despite officers’ repeated advice for him to calm down and leave the place. The man was subsequently arrested for disorderly behaviour,” the police said.
Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill that was passed in Parliament on Tuesday (7 Apr), all social gatherings of any size in both public and private spaces will be prohibited.
According to the new Bill, private parties and gatherings with families or friends not living in the same household— at home or in public spaces such as in parks and Housing Board void decks—will be prohibited or at least restricted under the order of the Health Minister.
At the same time, the movement and interactions of persons at their place of residence and other places, as well as residents’ usage of common areas such as void decks, and shared facilities in HDB estates and private condominiums will be limited.
Those found guilty of flouting the relevant measures can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed up to six months while subsequent offences may carry a fine of up to $20,000, up to 12 months’ jail, or both.