Netizens think Govt’s new rules that penalise diners at hawker centres for not returning trays after meals “unreasonable”

Starting from 1 September, enforcement action will be taken against diners who do not return their trays and crockery after their meals at hawker centres, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a statement on Tuesday (22 June).

NEA had earlier announced in May that there will be a three-month advisory period from 1 June to 31 August, during which diners will be advised to follow the rules and no enforcement action will be taken.

The agency cited the public health crisis that Singapore is facing and years of extensive educational efforts to change behaviour and mindsets of diners at public places, as a reason for the move.

Subsequently after that, enforcement will be taken against those who do not clean up after themselves at hawker centres.

With dining-in resuming recently, NEA issued a statement on Tuesday noting that enforcement of the rules will be carried out from 1 September onwards at all hawker centres.

“Enforcement officers will continue to advise diners to properly clear their dirty tray, crockery and litter. Those who do not heed the officers’ advice and leave their dirty tray, crockery and litter behind will have their particulars taken down and be issued a written warning for the first offence,” it said.

First-time offenders will be given a written warning. Subsequent offenders may face a S$300 composition fine, or court fines which can go up to S$2,000 upon conviction.

According to NEA, no enforcement will be taken during the advisory period – now until 31 August – but diners who fail to clear their tables will be reminded to comply fully when advised.

“During the advisory period, Safe Distancing Ambassadors (SDAs), SG Clean Ambassadors, Community Volunteers and NEA officers deployed at hawker centres will continue to remind diners to clear their dirty trays, crockery and litter.

“Visual cues such as posters and banners will be progressively installed at hawker centres to remind diners to clear their tables. NEA is also setting up more tray return infrastructure across all the hawker centres,” it stated.

NEA noted that it will monitor the ground situation and make adjustments over time to the enforcement posture accordingly.

The agency will also be working with the Singapore Food Agency to progressively roll out enforcement at coffee shops and food courts in the fourth quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, more than 75 tray and crockery return racks will be installed at hawker centres, on top of the 900 existing racks now, to improve the table-cleaning workflow, said NEA.

“This is done in consultation with key stakeholders, including Hawkers’ Associations, hawkers, as well as cleaning companies and cleaners,” it noted, adding that cooked food stallholders will also be provided with new trays.

Netizens think the rules “unreasonable” as it penalises paying customers

Penning their thoughts under the comment section of TODAY’s and The Straits Times’ Facebook posts, many netizens find the new rules “unreasonable” as customers will be penalised for not clearing trays, even when the fees that they paid inclusive of the cost of cleaning service.

Some netizens pointed out that the Government seems to “force people to do the right thing” by implementing such rules.

One netizen wrote: “I still don’t understand this logic of clearing your own mess and plates in Hawker centres if not will get fine. When we pay for a plate of chicken rice, does it or not cover the cost of cleaning services and clearing of plates? If not, then no problem. Then you add 20c, 50c or $1 lo and say it is for cleaning and clearing plates job. A choice ok. As a paying customer, why do I have to be strict as to follow this.”

Several netizens commented if the new rules will cause more job loss among cleaners.


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