Coronavirus: 2 repeat safe distancing offenders face fine of $1,000; sporadic crowds amid heightened enforcement

At East Coast Park, many people were still out and about in the evening of April 18, 2020.
At East Coast Park, many people were still out and about in the evening of April 18, 2020. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - While most people out to buy food and other essential items observed safe distancing measures on Saturday (April 18), close to 200 people were fined $300 for flouting the rules on the second weekend since the circuit breaker measures took effect.

More than 80 people were fined $300 for not wearing a mask outside their house, and at least two of them were repeat offenders who face a fine of $1,000.

Sharing the figures in a Facebook post on Saturday night, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said these were "disappointing numbers".

However, he said: "Most of us have been abiding by the circuit-breaker measures and I hope we will continue to do so."

Sporadic queues and crowds were also seen at some supermarkets, wet markets and parks across Singapore, although most people observed safe distancing measures amid heightened enforcement.

At the FairPrice Xtra in Jurong Point, a steady stream of shoppers were seen entering the supermarket when The Straits Times visited at 5pm.

Emergency medical technician Mahmud Azman said safe distancing ambassadors constantly reminded shoppers to keep a safe distance from others, despite the heavy footfall in the store.

"I only come out once a week to buy groceries for my entire family, the rest of the time we either order food online or buy our groceries online," said the 24-year-old who has seven members in his household.

Queues were formed outside the supermarket from time to time to limit the number of people in the store, as part of crowd control measures.

Madam Gloria Henry, 47, whose job as a promoter was halted temporarily due to the coronavirus outbreak, said the supermarket was "just as crowded as any other day".

"There's so many people that even pushing the trolley in the store is a problem, I have to keep saying 'excuse me' every few steps."


"But I have no choice; Ramadan is nearing so I have to come out to buy things to prepare for my family," she said, referring to the Muslim fasting month which starts this Friday.

On Saturday morning, Tekka Market in Little India, one of the most popular markets during the festive season, had around 800 people, Malay-language newspaper Berita Harian reported. The Geylang Serai Market also saw long queues of several hundred people waiting to enter, Berita Harian added.

Ms Adeline Tan, 23, who runs an online baking business and visited a Giant and two FairPrice supermarkets in Toa Payoh where she lives, said the crowds were managable.

"It's nothing compared to the crazy long queue in Sheng Siong on Friday, when there was fake news going around," she said, referring to viral messages of an imminent lockdown.

She was looking for baking supplies and only managed to buy them at German Market Place in Bukit Timah but had to queue 40 minutes to get in as the store was limited to eight shoppers at a time.

On Saturday morning, photos and videos of crowded trains taken by commuters were also circulated on social media.

Strategy and planning manager Christopher Liew, 34, who was on an 8am train on the East-West line from Boon Lay to Aljunied, said everyone was conscious about heeding the rules, despite the squeeze. "There's a small crowd because the train timings were a bit slower today," he said.


"But there were ambassadors everywhere, so people were automatically standing apart because no one will want to get caught, right?"

At East Coast Park, many people, including families, were still out and about when ST visited around 6pm. Some people were seen wearing masks even when jogging or cycling.

Public relations manager Subeer Dutt, 29, said the crowd had barely thinned at Upper Peirce Reservoir when he visited on Saturday morning. He had checked the Safe Distance @ Parks portal by the National Parks' Board to ensure the park was not crowded before heading out his house at 8am.

He said: "There were slightly less people than usual but nothing to suggest that the circuit breaker was in place, although there was enough space to keep a safe distance."