Over 7,000 written advisories issued to those who breached Covid-19 safe distancing measures

Enforcement officers from the National Environment Agency issuing public advisories on safe distancing at the Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre on April 7, 2020. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE -More than 7,000 written advisories were issued on Tuesday (April 7) to members of public who breached the stricter safe distancing measures that kicked in on the first day of Singapore's "circuit breaker" month.

Most of the breaches occurred at hawker centres and markets, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said in a statement Tuesday night.

More than 2,000 officers from various government agencies were deployed across the island during the day to help ease Singaporeans and businesses into the new normal.

They visited premises such as town centres, hawker centres, coffee shops, transport nodes, parks and community centres to ensure the observation of safe distancing measures in the heartland, the ministry said. They included Safe Distancing and SG Clean Ambassadors as well as enforcement officers from MEWR and relevant agencies.

The tighter rules, which are aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus amid a spike in locally transmitted cases, include a ban on dining in at all food establishments, and the suspension of non-essential services.

Advisories were given to those at crowded markets to remind them to keep a safe distance when queuing or making payment by following the floor markings, MEWR said. An advisory was also issued to a stallholder for selling drinks intended for dine-in at a hawker centre.

The ministry reminded members of the public that failure to comply with the elevated safe distancing measures that last until May 4 is an offence.

Those found to be in breach will be issued a written advisory, and if they do not comply, enforcement officers will take down their particulars and issue them a stern warning. The police may also be contacted for follow-up action, the ministry said.

Under the Covid-19 Temporary Measures Bill passed in Parliament on Tuesday, first-time offenders may face a fine of up to $10,000, jail of up to six months, or both. Subsequent offences carry a fine of up to $20,000, jail of up to 12 months, or both.

SPH Brightcove Video
The Straits Times visited Orchard Road, Bedok and Punggol to see how Singapore is faring on Day 1 of the circuit breaker measures.

"Singaporeans should stay at home to stop the spread of the virus. Stay home unless you are going to the doctor when unwell, or going out to buy food and essential items, or exercising," the ministry said.

"Singaporeans should stay at home to protect themselves, their friends and families. If you go out, ensure safe distancing."

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said in a Facebook post on Tuesday night that the large number of advisories issued is "very unfortunate and disappointing".

"From tomorrow, we will not hesitate to issue written stern warnings, which will lead to a fine, to those who still continue to gather in public," he wrote.

Those not out for essentials or for work in the essential services sector will face penalties.

"This includes those who continue to gather in groups at void decks, playgrounds or community parks, even if they are doing nothing but chit-chatting."

He urged Singaporeans to abide by safe distancing measures and wear a mask if they have to queue.

"These seemingly innocuous choices will make the difference between a long-drawn pandemic that continues to claim lives, or the successful containment of Covid-19," he wrote.​

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.