SINGAPORE: Twenty people were fined S$3,500 each on Monday (Nov 8) for breaching COVID-19 social gathering rules by attending a year-end countdown party that had 44 participants.
All of them pleaded guilty to one charge each of leaving their homes to meet with other people at Tradehub 21 on late Dec 31, 2020, or early Jan 1, 2021 to drink alcohol and chat.
The 20 people, aged 22 to 34, are: Ang Jun Xiang Dylan, Ang Kun Teng Javier, Cheong Zhen Qin Hermen, Chong Jia Hao, Choo Han Yi, Chua Cheng Fang Caroline, Goh Jing Kiat, Ho Hsien Ni, Joey Pay, Khoo Yan Jie, Koh Wei Jian, Lim Zhuang Yu Fabian, Nicole Low Ming Mei, Pang Pei Yi Gerald, Qiu Haili, Sammy Lim Zhi Wei, Samuel Tan Jia Hao, Tan Siang Chuan, Kevin Seow Xu Jie and Toh Jing En.
The court heard that the security team at Tradehub 21, an industrial building at 22 Boon Lay Way, detected groups of people entering and leaving a unit on Dec 31.
At the time, the maximum group size was eight, and Singapore was in Phase 3 of its reopening.
The operations manager at KH Security Agency called the police at about 1.20am on Jan 1 saying: "People having disco inside this industrial building."
Police officers went down to the scene and observed that the unit smelled strongly of cigarettes, with loud music being played inside. The unit, which was meant to be an office, had a karaoke system set up that was blasting music, and there were tables, chairs and sofas inside.
There were 44 people inside drinking liquor, singing karaoke and chatting, with no safe-distancing measures in place.
Investigations revealed that a 24-year-old man, Muhammad Farhan Sazali, had rented the unit in the building on behalf of Alex Sim Wang Yang, 24.
Sim used the unit as an illegal public entertainment outlet, playing music inside and selling liquor including beer towers, bottles of Martell and cans of Carlsberg.
In December 2020, Sim promoted a countdown party with alcohol included at the unit, through word-of-mouth and on social media. In total, 44 people left their homes and arrived at the Tradehub 21 unit between 9pm on Dec 31 and 1am on Jan 1.
The prosecutor asked for a fine of S$3,500, saying that the offenders' "deplorable conduct deserves firm sanction especially given the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic".
"With a vast majority of the population putting in tremendous effort and making sacrifices to ensure that Singapore emerges from this pandemic with the smallest number of casualties possible, these accused persons' selfishness and utter lack of civic-mindedness ought to be roundly chastised," she said.
She said the offenders went to the unit for a frivolous purpose and spent between 20 minutes and four hours there in an enclosed space with no safe-distancing measures in place.
"Given that there was no safe-entry check-in, it would have been difficult to contact trace the accused persons in the event of an outbreak within the group," said the prosecutor.
The cases for the other co-accused are pending. For breaching a COVID-19 regulation, the offenders could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.