SINGAPORE: A day before his home quarantine order ended, a foreign worker went to a mall to buy a shaver, as he did not want to look untidy for work the next day.
Indian national Vardireddy Nageswara Reddy, 35, was fined S$3,500 on Wednesday (May 20) after pleading guilty to one count of breaching his home quarantine order.
The court heard that Vardireddy had come into close contact with a colleague who tested positive for coronavirus.
He was given two orders to be isolated at home because of this - the first ordering him to stay in his rented Sengkang flat from Feb 16 to noon on Feb 20, and the second to remain isolated in his flat from Feb 16 to noon Feb 25.
Both orders stated that he could not leave his place of isolation at any time without permission.
However, a day before his home quarantine order ended, Vardireddy left his flat to go to Compass One, a mall in Sengkang.
He left at about 8.10pm on Feb 24, hoping to buy a shaver to shave as he was scheduled to return to work the next day and did not want to appear untidy.
Feb 25 fell on a Tuesday, and Vardireddy believed that it is inauspicious for Hindus to shave on a Tuesday, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Regina Lim.
He went to the Venus Beauty shop at the mall, bought a shaver and returned home after 20 to 25 minutes.
However, an auxiliary police officer had visited Vardireddy's flat within five minutes of his leaving to check if he was home.
Vardireddy's landlord opened the door and searched for Vardireddy, before telling the officer that he was not in.
The officer waited 15 minutes outside the flat to see if Vardireddy would return, before leaving when he did not show up.
The prosecutor asked for a fine of S$6,000, noting that breaches of quarantine orders are serious, with the starting point for offences in the least serious category going up to two months' jail.
HE COULD HAVE WAITED TO SHAVE: PROSECUTOR
Despite being given a quarantine order, the accused deliberately breached it, said Ms Lim.
"He was eager to return to work clean-shaven. He could have waited for the expiry of the order to shave, but he did not," she added.
She said Vardireddy chose a destination where he could have expected a significant amount of traffic.
Comparing the case to the one of Tay Chun Hsien, who left his house half an hour before his quarantine order ended as he mistook the timing, Ms Lim said Vardireddy breached his order "deliberately by choosing to shave on a Monday when the order ended on Tuesday".
Vardireddy, who was unrepresented, told the judge that he had tested negative after a swab test after his colleague tested positive for the virus.
Because of this, he felt the risk of spreading the virus was lighter, and said he was wearing a mask when he left the flat.
"Are you able to pay the fine?" asked District Judge Ong Hian Sun. "Is your company paying the fine?"
"No, your honour. It is my mistake, I will pay," answered Vardireddy.
For breaching his quarantine order, he could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.