SINGAPORE: All beaches in Singapore will be closed as part of efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The move was announced by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong in a Facebook post on Saturday (Apr 11).
"In theory, we could keep most places open, so long as safe distancing measures are strictly adhered to. But increasingly we see that this is hard to achieve.
"So tougher measures are necessary. Yesterday, we closed off selected areas in our parks and nature reserves. Today we will be closing all beaches in Singapore." he said.
The National Parks Board (NParks) said beaches at East Coast Park, Changi Beach Park, Pasir Ris Park, and Sembawang Park will be closed to allow for safe distancing and to prevent people from gathering in groups.
Mr Wong said people must drastically reduce their contacts with others for the "circuit breaker" to be effective, and the effort must be sustained not just for a few days but until the end of the month at least.
He also reminded people to stay home as much as possible, and to keep a safe distance from others should there be a need to go out.
NParks also announced they would be suspending their events and facilities to safeguard their volunteers and participants.
Venue and barbecue pit bookings are also suspended, along with permits for camping, hiking, research and filming.
"Our more than 350 parks and gardens remain open during this period. Remember to head to one that is near you alone or with your immediate family members in the same household only," NParks said on their website.
NParks' group director (parks) Chia Seng Jiang said some paths and bridges had to be closed to ensure safe distancing.
"While most parks, gardens and nature areas have seen relatively low to moderate visitorship since the circuit breaker period started, we needed to temporarily close some paths and bridges in some parks," he said.
These include the ones at the Wetland Centre in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, the Henderson Waves, as well as the MacRitchie TreeTop Walk.
He added as at 4pm (on Saturday), around 250 written stern warnings and fines have been issued in the past two days to visitors who were gathered in groups for exercising, kite flying, frisbee playing, bird singing, entering areas that had been closed, as well as groups of mountain bikers and cyclists in parks managed by NParks and town councils."
Mr Wong added that it had been almost a week since Singapore has entered its "circuit breaker" period and the situation at "hot spots" such as markets and parks is getting better.
"Our safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers are hard at work on the ground. And I thank everyone for doing their part and staying home," he said.
Mr Wong also said he had received "a lot of feedback on the 'circuit breaker' measures" and understood there were some people who genuinely found it "hard to adjust".
"Others say the current measures are already too restrictive and causing mental and social problems for themselves and their families.
"We will do our best to support them. But this is a public health crisis, and we have to do what is right and necessary to protect Singaporeans," he said.