Coronavirus: More than 200 businesses ordered shut for breaching rules

Closed shops in Chinatown Complex on April 9, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

More than 200 businesses have been ordered by the authorities to shut in the last two days, either for remaining open despite providing non-essential services or failing to comply with safe distancing measures.

Bubble tea operator Playmade's outlet in Waterway Point has also become the first establishment to be fined by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) for flouting safe distancing rules.

It was fined $1,000 for refusing to implement a crowd management system and for allowing customers to crowd together, despite repeated warnings, the agency said yesterday.

If the outlet remains non-compliant, it will face higher fines and may be charged in court, ESG added.

Enforcement officers swept across the island yesterday, issuing 153 stern warnings to errant individuals and businesses.

Police had to be called in several instances where individuals were not cooperative when asked to leave, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said last night.

While advisories had been handed out to those caught breaching safe distancing rules for the first two days of the shutdown, enforcement officers yesterday began to turn up the heat, taking down details of errant individuals and issuing them stern warnings.

Those who reoffend may face fines and be charged in court.

The Housing Board yesterday shut 150 non-essential shops, mainly in the household and personal care trades, that had remained open. Stern warnings were also issued to their owners, MEWR said.

The Singapore Tourism Board and ESG said in a joint statement last night that they had ordered 85 businesses to cease operations after two days of enforcement checks.

Since Tuesday, when Singapore's circuit breaker measures kicked in, the agencies have conducted daily surveillance of more than 15,200 businesses. These include shops, restaurants and tourism-related establishments, and most have been compliant, the agencies said.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Police Force has conducted joint operations to patrol areas where people were observed to be loitering in Yishun, Toa Payoh West, Haig Road and Boon Lay Food Centre.

The authorities have warned that stricter enforcement measures will be taken as people have continued to gather in groups, jeopardising the costly exercise aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

In egregious cases, individuals found to have breached the rules, which include a ban on social gatherings and dining at food establishments, may face prosecution even for a first offence, MEWR said.

To reduce the number of areas where people can congregate, HDB and town councils have cordoned off more than 20,000 playgrounds, game courts and seating facilities in the open spaces and void decks of HDB estates.

Across gardens, parks and nature reserves managed by the National Parks Board, more than 720 playgrounds and fitness areas as well as eight fishing spots have been closed.

By today, crowd management measures will be put in place at 40 popular markets. These include Tiong Bahru Market, Geylang Serai Market and Ghim Moh Market.

When The Straits Times visited Ghim Moh Market yesterday morning, all entrances but one were closed, and crowds were much thinner than they were earlier in the week.

MEWR urged people to stay home and avoid visiting crowded spaces, including markets, parks and coffee shops.

"Have meals at home and, if necessary, head out to exercise only at non-peak hours. This is to protect you, your friends and your families," the ministry said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: More than 200 businesses ordered shut for breaching rules. Subscribe