Over 1,800 fines imposed for failure to wear mask from last April to end-Jan: MSE

·Senior Reporter
·3-min read
A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a wall mural on 31 May, 2020, in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images file photo)
A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a wall mural on 31 May, 2020, in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images file photo)

SINGAPORE — Over 1,800 fines were issued to those who did not wear masks from April last year to end-January, said the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) in response to media queries.

Separately, as of end-December, there were 296 cases involving at least one charge convicted under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, according to the State Courts. A breakdown on the specific nature of the offences – for instance, whether they are improper mask-wearing or breaching of safe distancing measures – are not available.

Of the 296 cases, 227 were sentenced with fines and 43 with jail terms. Twenty-three were given other types of sentences including probation, reformative training as well as community-based ones, while the remaining three were sentenced to a combination including fines and others.

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act was passed by Parliament on 7 April last year, the same day Singapore entered a two-month circuit breaker period. It allows, amongst other things, Singapore's Health Minister to put in place measures to restrict the movement of people in specified places, as well as to limit the usage of specific premises and facilities.

Many amendments have been made to the Act since, as Singapore made its move into the different phases of its reopening.

These include a ban on singing and dancing as well as performances made on any wind musical instruments during the solemnisation of marriages and on the shouting of auspicious phrases, be it by patrons or staff members, during lohei.

Mask-wearing for people in Singapore aged six and above when they step out of their residences was made mandatory from 14 April last year, with some exceptions. Those who do not comply face a $300 fine for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders face higher fines or prosecution in court for egregious cases.

If convicted in court, the penalty for first-time offenders under the Act 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 jail term of up to a year.

"COVID-19 remains a serious threat. We strongly urge members of the public to continue to observe the tightened measures announced on 22 January by the multi-ministry taskforce, and to refrain from visiting potentially crowded areas during peak hours and weekends, and to plan their visits during off-peak hours instead," said the MSE in its reply on 19 March.

The ministry also reminded members of the public to wear a mask at all times when out of home, unless eating, drinking, or engaging in exercise, and to observe maximum group sizes and one-metre safe distancing in public spaces. 

"Our safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers are working hard to enforce adherence to safe distancing measures and safe management measures. All of us must comply with these measures to avoid a resurgence in community cases, which could have devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods," added the MSE.

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