Man charged with forging Covid-19 vaccination document to eat at restaurant

This is believed to be the first reported case of a person being charged in court over forging a vaccination document in an attempt to dine at a restaurant. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A man was so intent on dining at a restaurant amid the Covid-19 pandemic that he allegedly forged a doctor's memorandum, purportedly showing that he was fully vaccinated against the virus.

Chinese national Zhang Shaopeng, 30, who appeared in a district court on Wednesday (Sept 15) via video link from the Central Police Division, was charged with one count of forgery.

Court documents did not reveal his actual vaccination status.

This is believed to be the first reported case of a person being charged in court over forging a vaccination document in an attempt to dine at a restaurant.

Earlier this month, Zhang is said to have forged the doctor's memorandum, which was dated Aug 26.

He is accused of amending the document by adding his name to it so that others would assume that he was fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the police said Zhang allegedly produced a digital copy of the forged memorandum at an Orchard Road restaurant as he wanted to dine there on Sept 1.

They did not disclose details of the eatery.

The police added: "The staff of the establishment made a check on the memorandum and suspected that it could have been be forged."

The staff requested the man to leave and he complied. They then reported the matter to the police.

After investigations, officers from Tanglin Police Division managed to establish Zhang's identity and they arrested him on Tuesday.

Since Aug 10, groups of up to five people who are fully vaccinated, or have recovered from or tested negative for Covid-19, can dine together in restaurants.

The Ministry of Health had earlier said that someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after he receives a full regimen of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccines, or any other vaccine under the World Health Organisation's Emergency Use Listing.

Unvaccinated children aged 12 and below may be included in the group as long as they are from the same household.

Only two people can eat together at hawker centres and coffee shops, but this is regardless of vaccination status.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung had earlier warned against using another person's vaccination certificate in order to dine at restaurants, saying the authorities are aware this was happening.

In a Facebook post on Aug 11, he said: "The authorities will enforce against this, and offenders will face (a) severe penalty. It is not worth it."

Three days later, The Straits Times reported that some eateries had to turn away customers with fake vaccination certificates and some whose full-vaccination status was not yet valid.
For instance, Thai restaurant 87 Just Thai Killiney in Killiney Road had to reject 10 customers on the first day alone.

Businesses can verify the vaccination status of guests via the TraceTogether or HealthHub mobile apps, physical Covid-19 vaccination cards, or by scanning their TraceTogether tokens.

Zhang, who was unrepresented in court, was offered bail of $5,000 on Wednesday.

A pre-trial conference will be held on Sept 21.

For forgery, an offender can be jailed for up to four years and fined.

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