SINGAPORE: A National Environment Agency (NEA) enforcement officer was hit by a man ignoring COVID-19 safe distancing measures, the agency said on Wednesday (Apr 15), one of two cases of non-compliance it described as egregious in recent days.
From Monday to Wednesday, 19 instances of enforcement action were taken against members of the public for violating of safe distancing requirements at markets and cooked food sections of hawker centres, NEA said in a press statement, adding that two cases involved people who turned aggressive when approached by NEA officers.
In one case on Wednesday, a man was seen eating at the cooked food section of a hawker centre at Block 89 Circuit Road when he was approached by NEA enforcement officers.
The man refused to provide his particulars to the NEA officers, who then activated the police. But the man attempted to leave before the police arrived.
“An NEA enforcement officer tried to stop the man who then hit the officer in the face,” said NEA.
“Investigation is being conducted and multiple charges may be considered.”
In a Facebook post, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said police will investigate the matter, and called the incident "unacceptable".
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In another case of egregious non-compliance, a woman was seen not observing the 1m safe distancing rule when purchasing food at a stall on the second floor of the hawker centre at Block 320 Shunfu Road on Tuesday.
She was advised by SG Clean Ambassadors to practise safe distancing but she instead proceeded to sit at the dining area of the cooked food section and eat the food she bought.
When she was advised to leave, the woman refused to comply and challenged the ambassadors and took photographs and videos of them. The police were activated but the woman was also uncooperative towards them and began to video the engagement.
Her particulars were taken down by the police and she would be issued with a composition fine of S$300, NEA said.
“NEA takes a serious view of those who verbally or physically abuse our officers and SG Clean Ambassadors,” the agency said.
“We will not hesitate to take strong actions against such egregious offenders, including criminal prosecution if necessary."
In a separate press release on Wednesday, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources encouraged members of the public to use the OneService App to report cases where safe distancing is not being practised.
“The information provided will help relevant agencies identify hotspots which require further patrols,” said the Ministry.
“Please provide specific details and photographs of the issue when submitting feedback.”
READ: More than 200 fines to be issued to members of the public for flouting safe distancing measures
It has been a week since elevated safe distancing measures were implemented last Tuesday to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has infected almost 3,700 people in Singapore and killed nearly a dozen people.
After a week of observation at markets and hawker centres since access control measures were put in place, four “hotspot” markets with long queues and extended peak hours have been identified by NEA.
These include the markets at Geylang Serai, Block 20/21 Marsiling Lane, Block 104/105 Yishun Ring Road (Chong Pang Market) and Block 505 Jurong West Street 52.
NEA advised visitors at those markets to consider visiting nearby markets as alternatives.
The agency also reminded members of the public not to loiter around hawkers, while those sitting or waiting for their food takeaways should maintain safe distancing and not sit on seats that is demarcated as not to be occupied
“As Singapore moves into the second week of the circuit breaker period, the continued cooperation of all patrons, as well as stallholders, is required to ensure the success of the circuit breaker measures to halt the transmission of COVID-19 in Singapore,” said NEA.