SINGAPORE: The police will be investigating cases of criminal force against safe distancing enforcement officers, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Wednesday (Apr 15), as he condemned such acts as "unacceptable".
Singapore has introduced elevated safe distancing measures as part of a month-long circuit breaker period to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Other measures as part of the circuit breaker, which began on Apr 7, include the closure of non-essential workplaces and schools and implementing physical distancing precautions.
On Tuesday, the authorities announced that it would be mandatory for most people to wear a mask when leaving the house.
Many Singaporeans understand the importance of such measures, said Mr Masagos in a Facebook post.
"But there are some who are recalcitrant," he added.
"I was upset to learn that criminal force has been used against quite a number of our officers on the frontline," he said.
Earlier in the day, an enforcement officer was slapped by a man who did not comply with safe distancing measures, said the minister.
In another case, a safe distancing ambassador was punched by an "errant member of the public" when he was told to wear his mask correctly.
"Let me state categorically that such behaviour is unacceptable," said Mr Masagos.
"We will be taking action against these individuals, and will not hesitate to do the same should there be other similar incidents."
The incidents are "but two of the cases" which the police will investigate, he said.
To facilitate the enforcement of safe distancing measures, members of the public will now be able to send feedback and flag instances of misbehaviour via the OneService app, said Mr Masagos.
Those who submit information should only send photos they took themselves, and should also provide as many details as possible to facilitate enforcement, said the minister.
From Thursday, safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers will also get passes to help people better identify them, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said in a media release.
Enforcement officers may also wear a red armband.
"These new identifiers will help the public to better identify (enforcement officers) and ambassadors, and facilitate the work of the officers in enforcing safe distancing measures," said the ministry.
Singapore on Wednesday saw a spike in COVID-19 cases, reporting a record 447 new infections.
So far 3,699 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, ten of whom have died from complications related to the disease.