Coronavirus: $300 fine for flouting circuit breaker measures

National Parks Board officers dispersing a group of people at Labrador Park at 6pm yesterday. Cyclists and joggers joined people out for a walk in East Coast Park yesterday. Even though most kept some form of social distancing, a number of them were
Cyclists and joggers joined people out for a walk in East Coast Park yesterday. Even though most kept some form of social distancing, a number of them were seen weaving in and out of other people's paths. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
National Parks Board officers dispersing a group of people at Labrador Park at 6pm yesterday. Cyclists and joggers joined people out for a walk in East Coast Park yesterday. Even though most kept some form of social distancing, a number of them were
National Parks Board officers dispersing a group of people at Labrador Park at 6pm yesterday. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

No more warnings will be issued; beaches closed under tougher social distancing steps

From today, anyone flouting the circuit breaker measures will be fined $300 right away, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

This means no more warnings will be issued beforehand.

The move comes as all beaches were closed yesterday to curb the spread of the coronavirus and rules to get Singaporeans to stay home were tightened further.

Enforcement officers reported that there were still too many who were not taking the measures seriously, said Mr Masagos.

More than 3,000 stern warnings and 50 fines were issued yesterday, said the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.

On Friday, more than 2,900 stern warnings and 40 fines were issued. In total, more than 6,200 stern warnings and 90 fines have been issued since April 7, said the ministry.

It also said police assistance was required in about 20 cases where members of the public were not cooperative when asked to comply with the safe distancing measures.

Two men are being investigated for offences under the Liquor Control Act and Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 for drinking at an HDB void deck in Marsiling Road at about 1.20am yesterday.

"Stiffer penalties are clearly needed," said Mr Masagos of people flouting safe distancing rules. "From (today), we will no longer issue written warnings. Any offender encountered by our enforcement officers will be asked for (their) particulars immediately."

First-time offenders will be fined $300 and repeat offenders will face higher fines or prosecution in court for egregious cases.

Previously, first-time offenders were issued a written warning, while second-time offenders were fined $300, and those nabbed a third time were charged in court.

DOING WHAT IS RIGHT IN A CRISIS

I understand that there are some who genuinely find it hard to adjust. We will do our best to support them. But this is a public health crisis, and we have to do what is right and necessary to protect Singaporeans. In theory, we could keep most places open, so long as safe distancing measures are strictly adhered to. But increasingly, we see that this is hard to achieve. So tougher measures are necessary. Yesterday, we closed off selected areas in our parks and nature reserves. Today, we will be closing all beaches in Singapore... Remember the bottom line is that all of us must drastically reduce our contact with others for the circuit breaker to be effective. And we have to sustain this effort not just for a few days but till the end of the month at least. So stay home as much as possible.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER LAWRENCE WONG

 
 
 
 

"The health and safety of Singaporeans are at risk. It is therefore our top priority and collective responsibility," said Mr Masagos, who added that many had shared photos and videos of young and old people not complying with the elevated safe distancing measures.

He also asked members of the public not to send in photos that they did not take themselves as some of these would cause enforcement officers to waste time pursuing past events.

"The simplest thing everyone can do is to #StayhomeforSG. Let us get through this together," said Mr Masagos.

In announcing the closure of beaches, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said the Government has to do what is right and necessary to protect Singaporeans in a public health crisis.

"In theory, we could keep most places open, so long as safe distancing measures are strictly adhered to. But increasingly, we see that this is hard to achieve. So tougher measures are necessary," said Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force against the coronavirus.

Mr Wong reiterated that Singaporeans must drastically reduce contact with others for the circuit breaker to be effective, even as he acknowledged that there are people who "genuinely find it hard to adjust".

"I continue to receive a lot of feedback on the circuit breaker measures... Some say that it's only a partial lockdown and ask for a full lockdown, which they think will be more effective," he said.

"Others say the current measures are already too restrictive and causing mental and social problems for themselves and their families... We will do our best to support them."

He added: "We have to sustain this effort not just for a few days but till the end of the month at least. So stay home as much as possible."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 12, 2020, with the headline '$300 fine for flouting measures'. Print Edition | Subscribe