Day 2 of COVID-19 'circuit breaker' sees more than 3,000 breaches of safe distancing measures

Day 2 of COVID-19 'circuit breaker' sees more than 3,000 breaches of safe distancing measures

safe distancing
Controlled access point at Tiong Bahru Market. (Photo: NEA)

SINGAPORE: More than 3,000 written advisories were issued on the second day of elevated safe distancing measures to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said in a media release on Wednesday (Apr 8).

Heightened safe distancing measures kicked in on Tuesday as part of a "circuit breaker" period until May 4 to stem the spread of COVID-19.

READ: COVID-19: Singapore makes 'decisive move' to close most workplaces and impose full home-based learning for schools, says PM Lee

However the second day of the circuit breaker period still saw thousands of people not complying with the measures. 

In addition to the written advisories, three written stern warnings were also issued on Wednesday, said MEWR.

One of these was issued to a man at Block 89 Red Hill Close who sat on a marked seat to eat. 

"When asked to leave, he moved to another table to continue eating," said the ministry.

A total of 10,000 written advisories have been issued since elevated safe distancing measures kicked in, according to MEWR.

The majority of these were at hawker centres, markets and across Housing and Development Board (HDB) public spaces.

To tackle the issue, HDB is working with town councils to close public spaces such as playgrounds, sports courts and void deck seating areas, said MEWR.

Public areas closed in Singapore COVID-19 circuit breaker
A cordoned-off playground near Block 878A Tampines Street 86. (Photo: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources)

Authorities will also patrol areas where people have been seen loitering and "sitting for hours" at night, it added.

Addressing the issue on Facebook, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli urged members of the public to stay home.

"Our enforcement officers are still finding people, young and old, gathering in groups day and night on the second day of our circuit breaker," he said. 

"Exercise groups are still meeting in the parks. A good number still do not observe safe distancing when queuing, especially in the markets. These are where clusters of infections can be born."

Although fewer advisories were issued on Wednesday compared to the more than 7,000 on Tuesday, this was only because groups dispersed when told to do so, said the minister.

READ: COVID-19: More than 7,000 breaches of elevated safe-distancing measures on Day 1 of 'circuit breaker

"The point is that there are still so many gatherings in public places. This is very worrying," he said.

He implored members of the public to adhere to the elevated safe distancing measures, warning that the authorities would deal seriously with those found breaching them.

"From tomorrow, if enforcement officers come across persons gathered in public, they will issue them written warnings immediately, before dispersing them," he added. "Subsequent infringements will incur a fine or prosecution in court."

CROWD MANAGEMENT MEASURES EXPANDED TO INCLUDE MORE MARKETS

Crowd management measures will be expanded to cover around half of all markets in Singapore by Friday to control the spread of COVID-19, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a news release on Wednesday.

Fifteen markets have put in crowd management measures like controlled entry and exit points as of Wednesday.

These measures will now be rolled out to include 25 other markets which are “relatively popular and would attract crowds especially on weekends”, NEA said.

The agency explained that the number of people who can enter a market at any time is determined by the market's size and available space. If a queue forms when the market's capacity is reached, NEA advised that people should also keep a 1m distance from each other when waiting to enter the market.

“With more persons telecommuting during this period, and in view of the coming long weekend, members of the public should adjust their marketing hours,” NEA said.

It suggested visiting markets once a week, or during weekdays when markets are less crowded. If patrons must visit on weekends, they are encouraged to avoid the peak period between 7.30am and 10am.

NEA also said vulnerable groups like the elderly should avoid visiting markets altogether and seek help from family or neighbours.

READ: Measures for safe distancing rolled out at retail, F&B sectors to prevent COVID-19 spread

ENFORCEMENT ACTION TAKEN AT PUBLIC PLACES

Enforcement actions were also taken at some markets and the cooked food sections of hawker centres against those not adhering to safe distancing rules.

Over the morning and lunch hour on Wednesday, 307 written advisories were issued to patrons at markets to keep a safe distance between one another when making purchases at stalls.

safe distance
Written advisory being issued to a patron at a market in Jurong West. (Photo: NEA)

Another 611 written advisories were handed out at the cooked food sections as well to people who sat on seats in the dining areas or did not maintain a 1m separation from others when queueing. With the circuit breaker measures in place, patrons are no longer allowed to dine in at hawker centres.

Three people were given written warnings for not complying even after receiving written advisories.

“NEA officers will be conducting compliance inspections and strict actions will be taken against any member of the public found in breach of safe distancing measures,” NEA said.

“This is to ensure proper safe distancing at cooked food sections during the duration of the elevated safe distancing measures, and continue to help safeguard the safety of all hawkers and patrons.

“NEA continues to urge members of the public to exercise safe distancing when making purchases at both market and cooked food stalls.”

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the novel coronavirus and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram 

Source: CNA/aa(ac)

Bookmark