Over 8,600 fines, totalling over $2.5m, issued for breach of Covid-19 safety measures

A safe distancing enforcement officer at Ghim Moh Road Market and Food Centre in May 2020. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - From April to December last year, over 8,600 fines - totalling more than $2.5 million - were meted out to people who did not follow safe distancing and safe management measures and who did not wear masks.

From April to December last year, more than 6,900 fines were meted out to individuals who did not follow safe distancing and safe management measures.

During this same period, more than 1,700 fines were imposed on those who did not wear masks, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) told The Sunday Times.

First-time offenders who breach safe distancing measures are fined $300, and second-time wrongdoers $1,000.

Offenders may also face prosecution in court for egregious cases and higher fines if convicted.

The figures mean that fines for failing to follow safe distancing and safe management measures amounted to more than $2 million.

Fines for not wearing masks totalled more than $510,000.

MSE added that gathering in groups larger than the permitted size was one of the most common infringements of the Covid-19 safety measures.

Another common offence was intermingling at food and beverage outlets, game courts in Housing Board estates as well as parks and beaches.

The MSE said: "Covid-19 remains a serious threat and we must not become complacent, including during festive periods, when there will be an increase in social interactions."

On Friday, Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, cautioned against easing measures introduced to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Since Jan 26, households can have a maximum of eight unique visitors per day.

This additional measure comes on top of those already in place, such as the wearing of masks outside one's home which was mandated from April 14 last year.

Under phase three of Singapore's reopening which began on Dec 28, groups of up to eight people can gather socially, up from five previously.

MSE urged the public to observe the tightened measures announced by the multi-ministry task force.

It said: "All of us must comply with these measures to avoid a resurgence in community cases, which could have devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods.

"Agencies will continue to step up enforcement inspections on F&B premises, malls, parks and beaches, where needed."

In response to queries from The Sunday Times, the police said it supports other agencies to enforce safe management measures at known hot spots.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) conducts inspections of workplaces to ensure that companies abide by safe management measures.

Close to 140 firms were told to cease on-site operations after serious violations of workplace safe management measures, which were introduced in March last year.

More than 280 firms were fined by MOM for failing to abide by the measures.

On Friday, MSE noted that, last year, the largest gathering occurred on Oct 31 at Gemma Steakhouse, involving about 75 diners.

Investigations are ongoing into possible breaches by various parties.

In December, it was reported that Gemma Steakhouse, at the National Gallery Singapore, was ordered to shut for 20 days, after it was found that diners seated at different tables had intermingled.

Closed-circuit television footage showed they did not wear their masks while they were not eating or drinking.

Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, first-time offenders can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to $10,000, or both.

If convicted, repeat offenders can be fined up to $20,000, jailed for up to 12 months, or both.

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