COVID-19: Warnings and fines for those who continue to gather in public – Masagos

Safe Distancing and SG Clean ambassadors speaking to hawkers during the elevated safe distancing period to curb the spread of COVID-19. (PHOTO: Facebook/Masagos Zulkifli)

SINGAPORE — Stern warnings, which will lead to a fine, will be issued to those who continue to gather in public from Wednesday (8 April) the second day of Singapore’s enhanced safe distancing period to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This comes after more than 7,000 advisories were issued by 8pm on Tuesday – the first day of the “circuit breaker” period – to members of the public who breached the elevated safe distancing measures, mostly in hawker centres and markets.

Number of advisories ‘unfortunate and disappointing’

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said in a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday that the number of advisories issued was “very unfortunate and disappointing”.

“The choices that we make daily, will determine how we emerge from COVID-19,” he wrote.

“The 28-day circuit breaker measures, which took effect today, are strict measures that are intended to contain the transmission of COVID-19. We must work together and take this seriously. If we do not comply with these safe distancing measures, we will waste the sacrifices and adjustments of businesses and households during this period.

“From tomorrow (8 April) we will not hesitate to issue written stern warnings, which will lead to a fine, to those who still continue to gather in public. This includes those who continue to gather in groups at void decks, playgrounds or community parks, even if they are doing nothing but chit-chatting.”

Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill passed in Parliament on Tuesday, the penalty for first time offenders is up to a $10,000 fine, a jail term of up to six months, or both. For second-time or subsequent offenders, the penalty is a fine of up to $20,000 along with a possible jail term of up to a year.

Safe Distancing and SG Clean ambassadors deployed

On Tuesday, more than 2,000 Safe Distancing and SG Clean ambassadors as well as enforcement officers were deployed to HDB estates across Singapore, covering premises such as town centres, hawker centres, coffee shops, transport nodes, parks and community centres.

They issued more than 7,000 written advisories to the public, such as to those at crowded markets to remind them to keep a safe distance when queuing, or to those making payments to follow the floor markings.

One advisory was also issued to a stall-holder for selling drinks intended for dine-in at a hawker centres. Food and beverages outlets are not allowed to sell their products for dine-in during this 28-day circuit breaker period; they are only allowed to provide delivery or take-away services.

If any member of public does not comply or returns to commit the same offence, the enforcement officer will take down his or her particulars and issue a written stern warning. The police may also be contacted for follow-up action.

“Make the right choice. Stay at home,” said Masagos in his Facebook post. “Do not go out unless you need to see a doctor or buy essential items. Abide strictly by safe distancing measures if you have to be out and about. Wear a mask if you are, for example, queuing.”

“These seemingly innocuous choices will make the difference between a long-drawn pandemic that continues to claim lives, or the successful containment of COVID-19,” he also said.

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