A Singaporean was charged under the Infectious Diseases (COVID-19 – Stay Orders) Regulations 2020 after reportedly breaching her Stay-Home Notice (SHN) notice by leaving her designated facility during the stipulated period.
Rameswari Devi, 35, was served her SHN upon her return to Singapore from Johor Bahru on 30 April. Her notice required her to stay at the dedicated facility from 30 April to 14 May.
She was transported to a hotel in Novena after immigration clearance, according to a statement by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Wednesday (10 June).
However, Ms Rameswari left the hotel on 4 May and only returned to the hotel on 12 May.
During her time outside of the designated facility, she had visited the following locations in Singapore, according to ICA:
- Toa Payoh
- Block 63A Lengkok Bahru
- Tiong Bahru
Should Ms Rameswari be found guilty of breaching her SHN, she may be liable to a fine of up to S$10,000, or up to six months’ imprisonment, or both.
The SHN requirements took effect from 9 April at 11.59 pm. All citizens and Singapore residents, as well as long-term pass holders and short-term visitors entering Singapore are required to serve their 14-day SHN at the dedicated facilities.
ICA in its statement also reminded all travellers arriving in Singapore to submit complete and accurate health and travel declarations via the SG Arrival Card.
Travellers found to have made false or misleading declarations may be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Act, and may be subject to a fine of up to S$10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months.
For subsequent offences, individuals may be fined up to S$20,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months.
In the case of foreigners, ICA may also shorten the validity period permits and passes or even revoke them altogether.
Netizens, however, questioned why the authorities have not imposed heavy penalties in such cases despite frequently warning errant individuals of such punishments.
Many have called for swifter, stricter measures against those who wilfully breach SHNs and other COVID-19 regulations.
Several commenters also appear alarmed by the gap between the date Ms Rameswari left her hotel and the date she returned to the hotel, and questioned what had happened in the process of monitoring her whereabouts during the period.
Commenters have also called for the relevant authorities responsible for monitoring Ms Rameswari and other persons serving SHNs to be taken to task for “poor enforcement” of COVID-19 laws.
Jail term, cancellation of passport among past penalties against individuals breaching SHNs
Previously on 23 April, a 34-year old Singaporean man was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment for breaching his SHN by leaving his house to eat bak kut teh a month prior.
Alan Tham Xiang Sheng, 34, plead guilty on 16 April to an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act.
District Judge Ong Hian Sun, in delivering his judgement, noted that although Mr Tham’s risk of transmission is low, his conduct in disregarding the SHN was “socially reprehensible”.
“A deterrent sentence of six weeks’ jail is warranted to send a clear and unequivocal message to the accused and like-minded persons that it is incumbent on them to adhere strictly to the requirement of the SHN so as not to expose the public to danger of getting the dreaded COVID-19,” the judge said.
Mr Tham’s case marks the first in which an individual is sentenced for exposing others to the risk of infection by breaching an SHN.
ICA had also in March cancelled the passport of a 53-year-old Singaporean for breaching his SHN.
Mr Goh had travelled from Singapore to Batam in Indonesia on 3 March and returned to Singapore via Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on 19 March and was served a SHN upon his arrival in Singapore.
However, he decided to return to Indonesia the same day despite ICA officers warning him that he would breach the SHN requirements and could face penalties, according to ICA.
ICA added that he returned to Singapore from Indonesia through the Singapore Cruise Centre and was issued with a second SHN from 24 March 2020 to 7 April 2020.
All travellers entering Singapore with travel history to any ASEAN countries within the previous 14 days at the time were required to serve an SHN, with effect from 16 March at 11.59pm.