On Saturday (11 April), all beaches in Singapore were closed in order to stem the spread of the deadly COVID-19. Just a day earlier, some parts of parks and nature reserves were also closed off as the circuit breaker measures implemented by the Government tightened further.
This move was announced by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on his official Facebook account. He said that the Government has to do what is right and necessary now to protect Singaporeans during a public health crisis.
“I understand that there are some who genuinely find it hard to adjust. We will do our best to support them. But this is a public health crisis, and we have to do what is right and necessary to protect Singaporeans,” he wrote.
He added, “In theory, we could keep most places open, so long as safe distancing measures are strictly adhered to. But increasingly we see that this is hard to achieve. So tougher measures are necessary. Yesterday, we closed off selected areas in our parks and nature reserves. Today we will be closing all beaches in Singapore.”
Over the last couple of weeks, Singapore has seen a rise in the number of COVID-19 infection in the country. On Sunday (12 April), a total of 233 new cases of the virus were verified and confirmed by the Ministry of Health, bringing the toll to 2,532.
On Tuesday (7 April), the almost one-month long circuit breaker kicked in where most workplaces, except essential businesses, were closed, and all schools and learning institutes have moved to home-based learning.
Just a day later (8 April), Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli revealed that 3,000 written advisories were issued to those who breached or elevated safe distancing measures.
As of Saturday, more than 50 fines were issued by the Ministry of Environemnt and Water Resources (MEWR). In total, more than 6,200 stern warnings and 90 fines have been issued since 7 April, said the ministry.
If that’s not all, MEWR also stated in a press release that police assistance was required for over 20 uncooperative cases.
Earlier on 9 April, Mr Masagos announced that anyone who is found to be in breach or elevated safe distancing measures will face a stern written warning, while those who repeatedly flout the measures will be fined or charged in court.
According to Mr Masagos, first-time offenders will be issued a stern written warning. Individuals who commit a second offence will be fined S$300, while a third offence will lead to the person being charged in court.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also warned on 9 April that any group gatherings in public will immediately be issued a written warning by enforcement officers, adding that there were still many public gatherings spotted on the third day of the “circuit breaker” measures.
Additionally, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan also announced on Saturday that it is now compulsory for commuters to wear mask in public transport.
In the Mr Wong’s post, he also reiterated that Singaporeans must drastically reduce their contact with others in order for these circuit breaker to be effective, adding that these measures should be followed until the end of the month.
“I continue to receive a lot of feedback on the circuit breaker measures. I try to read all of them although I am unable to reply to them personally,” he wrote.
He added, “Some say that the circuit breaker is only a partial lockdown and they think a full lockdown will be more effective. Others say the current measures are already too restrictive, and causing mental and social problems for themselves and their families.”
Mr Wong also advised people to be at home for most of their time, and adorn a mask and maintain safe distance if they have to leave the house to get their daily necessities.
“So stay home as much as possible. If you absolutely must go out (e.g for food or groceries), keep a safe distance from others, wear a mask, and go home once you are done.
“The health of all Singaporeans depends on each one of us. We will get through this together.”