COVID-19: Nine more repeat offenders to be fined S$1,000 for breaching safe distancing rules

COVID-19: Nine more repeat offenders to be fined S$1,000 for breaching safe distancing rules

Safe distancing Yishun coffee shop
Safe distancing at a coffee shop in Yishun. (File photo: Facebook/Masagos Zulkifli)

SINGAPORE: Another nine repeat offenders will face a S$1,000 fine for breaching safe distancing measures, said Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Monday (Apr 20).

"Today, our officers came across more than 200 people who did not comply with safe distancing measures, and 80 who did not wear a mask outside their home," said Mr Masagos in a Facebook post. "All of them face fines."

"Regrettably, nine will face a fine of S$1,000 for committing these offences a second time.

"If these are acts of defiance and irresponsibility, they clearly undermine the efforts that everyone else has been making. What will it take to get them to understand that they are putting everyone’s safety at stake?" he added.

The repeat offenders added to the more than 10 people who were fined for continued safe distancing offences on Sunday.

READ: 1,426 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, mostly foreign workers in dormitories

As a densely populated city with close social interaction, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, said Mr Masagos.

As such, safe distancing in public places has been enforced as part of the "circuit breaker" measures which came into effect on Apr 7 and are set to end on May 4.

ONE CAN INFECT 1,000

"If safe distancing measures are not put in place and strictly enforced, there will be widespread community transmission," said the minister as he urged people to muster the resolve to abide by the measures.

"They may entail some inconvenience, but the daily news reports of dire situations in other countries, including second wave infections, are sobering reminders of the risks and high stakes of this pandemic, as are surprising and worrying facts about the virus we discover on a daily basis from the global scientific community."

Mr Masagos highlighted how contagious COVID-19 is, saying that infected numbers can grow exponentially.

Citing a World Health Organization estimate, he said a COVID-19 carrier can infect two others, who each can go on to infect another two people.

"If unfettered, in 10 incubation cycles, or a month, that one person could potentially infect 1,000," he added.

"This is compounded by the fact that not everyone shows symptoms of the virus, and a good number only has mild symptoms.

"As such, in an uncontrolled situation, some of the thousand infected could spread the virus in their community unknowingly."

This means "staying home is still the best choice", said Mr Masagos.

Getting essential goods outside should also be done quickly while wearing a mask and observing safe distancing measures. When there are long queues, find another time during off-peak hours to visit the supermarket or market, or buy groceries at another store nearer to home, he added.

"Please do not linger outside. Staying out and meeting people puts you and your families at risk of contracting the virus."

ELDERLY WOMAN FINED FOR REFUSING TO LEAVE HAWKER CENTRE

One of those who refused to comply with the elevated measures over the weekend was a woman who insisted on having her meal at a hawker centre, even though dining in is not allowed under the tighter circuit breaker measures. 

The woman was spotted by safe distancing enforcement officers on Saturday, eating at the Block 37A Teban Garden hawker centre.

"They advised her to return home, and that she would be fined if she continued to have her meal in the hawker centre," said the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in response to CNA's queries.

However she refused to comply, and the police were called in.

In a video circulating online, the elderly woman was seen sitting by herself at a table.

She was heard shouting, accusing them of "bullying" her. Not allowing people to leave their homes is tantamount to state bullying, she said in Mandarin.

When asked to produce her identity card, the woman tossed over a bus concession card. "Go ahead, I'm not afraid," she said, when by a person off-screen that the police would be called if she did not produce her identity card.

The woman was later issued with a fine by a safe distancing enforcement officer.

"Her son who was contacted subsequently took her home," added HDB.

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Source: CNA/jt(mn)

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