Several photos showing people hanging out at Robertson Quay without observing social distancing and wearing a face mask have been circulated on social media and garnered attraction online.
A Facebook user Lectress Pat on Saturday (16 May) shared these photos on Facebook, noting that there has been no single enforcer patrolling at Robertson Quay when the photos being took on Saturday’s evening around 6.25pm.
As three customers were spotted chatting outside of a beer bar in one of the photos, the staff of these F&B establishments did nothing to stop these people from drinking at their premise nor did they remove the standing tables, according to Lectress Pat.
The post also captioned, “So perhaps the authorities can enlighten many of us… The usual local HDB folks are being monitored closely, apprehended promptly, yet such gatherings with many drinking openly and no masks on, are tolerated in certain ‘Sovereign’ zones… Double Standards Much???”
In the photos, it can also be seen that some people were spotted not wearing a mask and sitting close to each other at the staircase outside of restaurants.
URA found majority of operators and individuals to be compliant with safe distancing measures at Robertson Quay
Following this, on the next day (17 May), the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has issued a statement regarding these viral photos of people gathering around restaurants in Robertson Quay.
Noting that they were aware of this incident, URA said that majority of operators and individuals “found to be compliant with safe distancing measures” during their safe distancing patrols at Robertson Quay.
“However, we observed that some restaurants in the area were selling take-away alcohol to patrons, which had contributed to more individuals gathering around these premises,” the statement read.
Hence, URA said it has issued a written direction to these restaurants to cease the sale of take-away alcohol with immediate effect.
It added, “Any contravention of such directions is an offence and we will not hesitate to take such parties to task.”
Furthermore, the agency purported that they will not hesitate to take further enforcement action against business operators if they find other infringements of safe distancing measures.
“Similarly, individuals found to be in breach of safe distancing measures will also be fined,” the agency said.
Meanwhile, one of the F&B establishments at Robertson Quay, TAP took to its Facebook on Sunday (17 May) and clarified that the photos captured few customers chatting besides a table with cups of beer were not at their restaurants.
“We have addressed this situation in a previous post, but removed it due to the lack of clarification that resulted in a overwhelming amount of confused commenters. As such, it should be highlighted once again that the tables featured in the photographs making their rounds do not belong to TAP,” it wrote.
Highlighting the importance of adhering to the circuit breaker measures, TAP in its post advised the public to not having food and drinks outside “whether or not a restaurant has an available table”.
While TAP has received negative response due to the related incident, it also urged the people to be respectful towards each other as everyone is together in this trying time.
Though the authorities has clarified the incident, however, many netizens on the Facebook page of Mothership.sg and The Straits Times, pointed out the “double standard” by the Government when issue fines for those who not complying with safe distancing measures and not wearing masks.
They noted that the local residents have been fined and some work permit pass holders had their work permit revoked due to breaching safe distancing rules. However, it is hardly to see the expats being penalised if they flouted the same rules.
This condition, one netizen even described as “one county two systems” in Singapore.
Some netizens also questioned whether the enforcement officers are more lenient to foreigners because of their “identity privilege”. The netizens hoped that the foreigners should be fined as same as the locals when they are not abiding to the rules.
One netizens also asked that why the enforcement officers were not seen at the areas, which is the popular spot among foreigners, but planted so many enforcement officers at heartland areas to fine Singaporeans. “Foreigners/expats have its privileges? Afraid to fine or charge them?” the netizen asked.
Other netizen opined that the foreigners in Singaporeans “are totally not compliant to our countries laws” as he observed many are still strolling outside without wearing a mask during this period.