Coronavirus Situation in Singapore

Mask wearing to remain mandatory even as measures are eased

Anyone leaving their homes must wear a mask.
Anyone leaving their homes must wear a mask.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Even as Covid-19 restrictions are slowly eased and Singapore moves towards phase three of its reopening, one rule will remain mandatory: mask wearing.

Anyone leaving their homes must wear a mask, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said yesterday.

She also added that people should put on their masks at all times, and put them back on immediately after activities such as eating, drinking or doing strenuous exercise.

"You should also keep your mask on when seated before you start consuming your food or drink or before you begin your workout," she added in her reply in Parliament to Ms Cheryl Chan (East Coast GRC) who noted some grey areas in the enforcement of mask wearing.

A person is fined $300 when caught without a mask on for the first time. Repeat offenders will face stiffer fines or prosecution.

"Mask wearing will remain an important measure for public health, to protect ourselves and those we come into contact with," Ms Fu stressed.

She cited a recent study by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research which found small particles from a person's cough could travel more than 1m in eight seconds if no mask is worn.

Wearing a mask reduces the droplets and aerosols ejected from a person's nose and mouth, she said, and this helps curb the spread of the virus.

The minister further said that safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers are regularly updated on safe distancing measures, including how to engage with operators of premises and members of the public.

The officers are briefed by their team leaders and supervisors of any changes to the measures, and given reference materials via their mobile devices. They work in teams with a minimum of two persons, with at least one of them being an experienced officer who will provide support and guidance.

"Even though caseloads are currently low, we must not let our guard down. We will need to stay nimble and calibrate our measures appropriately," said Ms Fu.

One such example of calibration she gave is the Government lifting the odd-even entry restrictions at four frequently visited markets while at the same time, stepping up enforcement of safety measures at popular food and beverage spots across the island.

The markets are Geylang Serai Market, Chong Pang Market at Block 104/105 Yishun Ring Road, and the ones at Block 20/21 Marsiling Lane and at Block 505 Jurong West Street 52.

Ms Chan asked what more can be done to aid safe distancing ambassadors, as she foresees more grey areas emerging such as when the number of people who can dine together is increased.

Ms Fu noted that the ambassadors "are not everywhere at all times" to ensure rules are followed, so a lot depends on the customers themselves. The ambassadors are there to give reminders, and very often patrons will heed them and put their masks back on, she said.

"If not, then in some cases, after repeated reminders, we may have to enforce. Hopefully, such circumstances will reduce over time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2020, with the headline 'Mask wearing to remain mandatory even as measures are eased'. Subscribe