165 caught breaching Covid-19 rules as families flock to parks and beaches

Camping and barbecues at parks and beaches have been allowed since January, but require a permit. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The authorities caught 165 people flouting Covid-19 rules at parks and beaches in the first half of the school holidays.

Fines and written warnings were handed out over the breaches of safe management measures between last Saturday and Wednesday (March 13 and 17).

Ms Sophianne Araib, group director of parks at the National Parks Board (NParks), said significantly more people have been visiting green spaces since the start of the pandemic.

"Staff patrol our parks on a regular basis as part of their daily work, including conducting spot checks at camping and barbecue sites," she said.

"Together with other deployed safe distancing ambassadors, they will advise park visitors to observe safe distancing and ensure safe management measures are adhered to at these sites. Most visitors are cooperative when advised to adhere to the measures."

Camping and barbecues at parks and beaches have been allowed since they were reopened for use in January, but require a permit.

Tents must also be at least 5m apart. The maximum number of campers in a group is limited to six, while no more than eight people can attend a barbecue.

In January, at least 104 people were caught breaching safe management measures at parks and beaches. Another 74 were caught last month.

At Pasir Ris Park on Thursday, The Straits Times saw a group of 11 at Camping Area 3. The four adult women and seven children had two tents pitched near each other. When approached, a woman who wanted to be known only as Ms Sharon said there were more than eight people because three of her children's friends were in the area and had dropped by.

"We kind of told them that if they saw their friends to tell them not to come," she said.

"But they came by and we just thought the kids would play for a while."

Ms Sharon said the other adults in the group were also parents, and that their children all went to the same school anyway.

"They would have seen each other in school," she said. "They already intermingle during their classes."

Ms Araib said visitors to parks and beaches should observe other safe management measures such as wearing a mask except when engaging in strenuous exercises or consuming food, drink or medication.

They should also keep a safe distance of at least 1m from other visitors, and there should be no intermingling between groups.

"We hope all park visitors will be socially responsible and keep our green spaces safe for everyone," she said in a statement to the ST.

"The public can refer to the NParks website for the latest advisories for gardens, parks and nature reserves in response to the Covid-19 situation."

Visitor levels at parks can be checked online through the Safe Distance @ Parks portal.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.