Coronavirus: 200 fines of $300 issued for non-compliance of safe distancing measures

A National Environment Agency officer (in white) at Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre on April 12, 2020.
A National Environment Agency officer (in white) at Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre on April 12, 2020.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - More than 200 composition fines of $300 were issued to members of the public who did not comply with elevated safe distancing measures across Singapore on Sunday (April 12), as stiffer penalties for such breaches kicked in, said the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.

Police assistance was required for more than 20 non-cooperative cases.

The number of fines is much fewer than the 3,000 warnings issued on Saturday, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli in a Facebook post on Sunday night.

"Singaporeans are conducting themselves well in public. Thank you to the many people who chose to stay at home."

But he added: "As we begin a new week, I am clear that we will not hesitate to take action against those who continue to flout safe distancing measures. We will give no quarter to stubborn pockets of people in some public spaces."

The minister had warned on Saturday that first-time offenders will be fined $300 and repeat offenders will face higher fines or prosecution in court for egregious cases, after enforcement officers reported that there were still too many people not taking the measures seriously.

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

On Sunday, 30 fines of $300 were issued for non-compliance of safe distancing measures at or near markets and hawker centres, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).

About 380 enforcement officers were deployed to ensure that people complied with such measures at or near markets and cooked food sections of hawker centres, the NEA added.

 
 
 
 

More than 190 SG Clean Ambassadors were also deployed to remind people that eating and drinking, or any form of loitering, are not allowed at or near the cooked food sections of hawker centres.

Mr Masagos said in his post: "Our enforcement officers... have been out in force every day to cover all the public areas in housing estates, including this long weekend."

But enforcement operations should not continue at the same scale in the weeks ahead, he added, noting that agencies have to uphold essential services such as tackling dengue and ensuring water and food security.

The NEA said that over the long weekend, most people had adhered to safe distancing measures, and queues outside popular markets were more orderly and manageable, with the overall crowds at markets down by about 50 per cent from Friday to Sunday.

People are advised to patronise markets during weekdays or at the non-peak period between 10am and noon on weekends.

It is at least 50 per cent less crowded at markets after 10am than at earlier peak hours, and fresh produce is still available in markets up till noon, the agency noted.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and may take stronger measures if the crowd situation does not improve, to help support the current circuit breaker and halt the transmission of Covid-19 in Singapore."