Rules, enforcement at popular spots tightened

Move comes amid crowding in places like nightspots, malls; beaches to get capacity cap

Right: Restaurants and bars in places such as Holland Village will continue to be closely monitored for breaches. Below: Beaches like the one at East Coast Park will see capacity limits implemented following crowding at the start of the school holida
Above: Restaurants and bars in places such as Holland Village will continue to be closely monitored for breaches. ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, KELVIN CHNG
Right: Restaurants and bars in places such as Holland Village will continue to be closely monitored for breaches. Below: Beaches like the one at East Coast Park will see capacity limits implemented following crowding at the start of the school holida
Above: Beaches like the one at East Coast Park will see capacity limits implemented following crowding at the start of the school holidays last weekend. ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, KELVIN CHNG

Five weeks into phase two of Singapore's reopening, lapses into old habits and weak links have prompted a retightening of safety and enforcement measures at hot spots to prevent a spike in new Covid-19 infections, the authorities said.

Popular nightspots, beaches, malls and parks are some of the places where there has been crowding, and where safe distancing rules such as keeping to groups of five or fewer have not been well observed.

The start of the school holidays last weekend increased the numbers at beaches and parks, while restaurants and bars in places such as Holland Village, Dempsey, Robertson Quay and Circular Road continue to be closely monitored for breaches, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

For instance, two food and beverage outlets in Circular Road - Los Amigos and Try Again - were fined and suspended in the past week for hosting groups of more than five despite having been issued warnings.

Last weekend, the National Parks Board also handed out over 100 fines to individuals who failed to observe safe distancing measures at gardens, parks and nature reserves.

Among the tighter control measures to be implemented are capacity limits, such as at beaches.

Officers will man control points at the entrances and turn away visitors when they assess an area to be close to capacity.

Carparks serving these places will also be closed and traffic redirected before they fill up, said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong asked Singaporeans to bear with the measures, which are aimed at preserving public health.

He also urged those with symptoms of acute respiratory infection not to self-medicate and hope it blows over on its own, but to see a doctor immediately.

About 40 per cent of community cases have engaged in activities such as visiting shopping centres after the onset of symptoms, and of these, one-third continued to go to work.

 
 

"Such behaviour jeopardises our collective efforts to fight Covid-19 and could lead to infections of loved ones, friends and colleagues," said Mr Gan, who is also co-chairman of the Covid-19 task force.

"We urge everyone to see a doctor early if you feel unwell and to stay at home throughout the duration of your medical leave or before your swab results come back."

People must remain vigilant not just in public, but also in private settings, to prevent a new wave of infections happening, said Mr Wong.

Infections can happen not only at malls and bars, but also "in places that are not so visible, because people are visiting one another in their homes", he noted, especially if the rule on group limits is flouted.

"If there are people who do not comply with the rules and you have large groups of people coming to visit one another... that may not be visible, may not be on social media, you may not have pictures publicised, but, in the end, you're putting yourself and your own friends and family members at risk," he said.

While the Government has stepped up efforts to ensure people observe safe distancing and enhanced crowd control measures at hot spots, Singaporeans should not rely on enforcement to be socially responsible, said Mr Gan.

 
 

"In this new Covid normal that we need to move to, the role of the individual is crucial," he said. "Fighting the virus requires significant shifts in behaviour and mindset.

"Some of these changes may be inconvenient or even painful, but we can change our social norms if we make a collective effort by each playing our part."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2020, with the headline 'Rules, enforcement at popular spots tightened'. Print Edition | Subscribe