Masagos Zulkifli warns people to not participate in social gatherings as Singapore exits circuit breaker period

As Singapore officially enters Phase 1 of its circuit breaker exit strategy today (2 June), Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli warned citizens to not take part in social gatherings outside of their homes as it is still not allowed.

“Social gatherings outside of our households are still prohibited because there are still invisible COVID-19 carriers amongst us,” he said in a Facebook post on Monday (1 June).

He added, “Even when you visit your elderly parents or grandparents, do note that we have limited visits to only two visitors (from the same household) per day.”

In the post, Mr Masagos pointed out that he is glad that the decision to minimise social interactions have been paying off well as the number of COVID-19 cases among the community has significantly reduced.

In fact, Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that there were zero community cases reported out of the 408 COVID-19 new infections in Singapore on Monday. It added that all the cases involved Work Permit holders residing inside and outside dormitories, linked to known clusters.

“I am glad that our collective efforts to minimise social interactions have led to a significant decline in community cases. We have averted a healthcare crisis so far, that could have put our healthcare workers and facilities under great stress,” he said.

“We can now concentrate on reviving the economy and avert a job crisis.”

Mr Masagos recalled that when Singapore just entered its circuit breaker period in April and began enforcing strict social distancing measures, the authorities had to issue fines to 100 people for not wearing masks when they stepped out of their homes. However, on 31 May, things took a positive turn as only 3 mask-related fines were issued.

“Fines issued against breaches of safe distancing measures have also come down, by about two-thirds — from more than 250 fines a day in the initial period, to about 85 fines on 31 May,” he added.

Unfortunately, the Minister revealed that there’s an increase of 5 percent in the number of people being caught for meeting individuals from different household in the past week, compared to the week before.

“Our Enforcement Officers encountered people meeting up with buyers, chatting in groups in public spaces, exercising together in parks, and even a group of individuals from different households gathering and drinking together for a birthday celebration,” Mr Masagos noted.

He stressed, “Such reckless behaviour compromises efforts to keep Singapore safe, and will not be tolerated. We must prevent a second wave of community spread.”

As such, Mr Masagos warned the people of Singapore to not participate in social gatherings during Phase 1 of the circuit breaker exit strategy. He advised people to continue to stay at home as much as possible, and adorn a mask if they have to leave the house.

“We must remain ever vigilant to keep our loved ones safe. While the restrictive measures pose challenges, I ask everyone to be patient and adapt accordingly to the new normal. If we all do our part, we can get through this together, and emerge stronger as a people,” he added.

Several people charged in court for breaching social gathering prohibitions

Seven people were charged in court today (2 June) for flouting Government prohibition on social gatherings during the COVID-19 circuit breaker.

Each of them were charged with one count of breaching Regulation 6 of the COVID-19 regulations by meeting each other without reasonable excuse between 6pm and 6.44pm on 16 May, either at Rosso Vino at 15 Merbau Road or [email protected] Quay — the latter of which is situated within a short walking distance from the former.

Earlier on 16 May, Facebook user Lectress Pat posted a series of photos showing crowds of people gathering at Robertson Quay, noting that no enforcer was seen patrolling the area when the photos were being taken at around 6.25pm.

Some individuals were spotted not wearing masks in the photos, while others were seen sitting near to each other without social distancing. The photos went viral on social media.

On 19 May, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced its decision to exit the circuit breaker as the daily number of new community cases has declined significantly and the dormitory situation has stabilised.

However, it reminds people that the re-opening plans will not be a return to life before COVID-19.

“We must get used to a new normal, with the widespread adoption of safe management measures and technology so we can carry out our daily activities safely.” said the Taskforce.

There will be a controlled approach to resume activities safely over three phases.

Economic activities that do not pose high risk of transmission will be first resumed while social, economic and entertainment activities that carry a higher risk will remain closed.

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