Coronavirus pandemic

50 caught not wearing masks; 150 fined for safe distancing breaches

Mr Darren Ang, seen here giving out pamphlets to members of the public, said of his efforts as an SG Clean ambassador: "I don't see it as work - I see it as a very important mission." PHOTO: NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AGENCY
Mr Darren Ang, seen here giving out pamphlets to members of the public, said of his efforts as an SG Clean ambassador: "I don't see it as work - I see it as a very important mission." PHOTO: NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

Around 50 people were caught not wearing a mask in public yesterday, the first day the new regulation to help stem the transmission of the coronavirus was enforced.

Another 150 people will be fined for breaching safe distancing measures, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.

In a Facebook post yesterday, he warned that the 28-day circuit breaker may not be enough if Singaporeans continue to flout measures put in place to stem the spread of Covid-19.

He noted that a "small number of people" are becoming complacent despite cases of Covid-19 infection continuing to rise here. "We are still finding people eating at hawker centres despite dine-in being disallowed, crowds returning to some popular markets, and others loitering and hanging out in groups at parks and public spaces," he wrote.

Mr Masagos said the majority have been abiding by new regulations requiring the use of masks when stepping outdoors.

Yesterday was the 10th day of the stringent circuit breaker measures aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus infections here.

Mr Masagos said that while it has not been easy for people to adjust to spending most of their time at home and observing the safe distancing measures, doing so is critical to contain the virus. He said: "Every lapse weakens our collective defence against the virus... When things look like they are getting better is when we must not let our guard down. Our resolve to complete the circuit breaker with seriousness, to the end, is critical."

The minister also praised the various safe distancing ambassadors and public officers who have been fighting the virus on the front lines. "I am proud that they have remained dedicated and steadfast."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also thanked safe distancing ambassadors in a Facebook post yesterday. He wrote: "(They) have also been hard at work in the community. Many of us are practising new habits and keeping a safe distance. But quite a few have still not got used to this.

"Many ambassadors are volunteers who care, and want to do something. We are grateful for their efforts and service."

One such volunteer, 38-year-old SG Clean ambassador Darren Ang, said he stepped up as he had lived through the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) crisis, and its impact was still with him. "I don't see it as work - I see it as a very important mission," he said, adding that he wants to help the elderly, who are more vulnerable to Covid-19.

DON'T LET GUARD DOWN

Every lapse weakens our collective defence against the virus... When things look like they are getting better is when we must not let our guard down. Our resolve to complete the circuit breaker with seriousness, to the end, is critical.

MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES MASAGOS ZULKIFLI

Singapore Food Agency enforcement officer Madeline Soh, who is in her 20s, said her job has been challenging, but she felt it was her responsibility to "step up".

"Support from my loved ones, and remembering why I do what I do, have helped me pull through as I work additional hours and often during the weekends," she said. "As my colleagues and I do our part, I hope that Singaporeans would also do theirs by being socially responsible."

"This is a fight that we cannot win alone, and we must stand united as one to overcome Covid-19," she added.

Since the start of the circuit breaker period on April 7, 3,000 enforcement officers, SG Clean and safe distancing ambassadors have been deployed daily to public spaces to help ensure the elevated safe distancing measures are observed.

They come from about 50 public agencies and include non-public servants from the hospitality and aviation sectors, as well as volunteers recruited by the People's Association and other agencies.


The Straits Times spoke to three individuals on what it is like enforcing circuit breaker measures on the front lines. SEE TOP OF THE NEWS 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2020, with the headline '50 caught not wearing masks; 150 fined for safe distancing breaches'. Print Edition | Subscribe