SINGAPORE - With the first floor unit in Golden Mile Tower shuttered, two men, who were contracted to do renovation works there, would use the unit for drinks and occasionally invite others to join them amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The two hosts of the illicit gatherings, Loo Jiale and Ngin Peter, were eventually caught by the police during one of their gatherings in June, which involved four other Singaporean men and four Thai women.
All 10 pleaded guilty to breaching Covid-19 regulations on Friday (Aug 28) over flouting safe distancing measures and were sentenced to fines.
Loo, 32, who was the primary organiser of the party, was fined $8,000 while Ngin, 52, was fined $6,000.
The guests comprised Ho Hua Heng, 50; Rainven Tan Choon Chye, 49; Kwok Kian Ghin, 56; Lek Guan Heng, 56; Khamsam Wararat, 29; Ketthim Supatsara, 24; Bunkhan Supapron, 33; and Ob-un Wanwisa, 30. They were each fined $4,000.
All 10 faced another charge of leaving their place of residence without a reasonable excuse, which was taken into consideration.
As part of the first phase reopening, which took effect on June 2 and lasted till June 18, social gatherings were prohibited, although exceptions were made for people visiting their parents or grandparents.
The court heard that on June 11, the police received an anonymous message about an "illegal disco pub with sexy ladies going business during CB (circuit breaker) secretly open daily 24/7 (sic)". However, when the officers arrived, they discovered that it was not a disco pub but a secured unit.
After being let in by Loo, the officers found the other nine in a small room seated with cups of beer and soju bottles on the table and on the floor. There were also a few crates of beer bottles placed on the floor.
Investigations found that in April, the owner of the unit had engaged Loo and Ngin to perform renovation works and gave them the keys when they needed to check the unit for any water leakage.
However, Loo and Ngin were not given permission to use the unit for drinking sessions with others.
Loo admitted that he had participated in two to three gatherings since the later part of April. He and Ngin agreed to order 10 cartons of beer to drink during the gatherings with others.
Court documents did not reveal how the members of the group know one another.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jason Chua argued that such breaches of the Covid-19 regulations "place the overall well-being of our country at risk".
Furthermore, the shop unit was shuttered, which made the gathering difficult to detect.
In sentencing the group, who were unrepresented, District Judge Ong Luan Tze accepted the point raised by the DPP that the gathering being held in a shuttered unit rather than a flat meant that there was a "higher severity".
For each charge under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, a first-time offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000.
A repeat offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.