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COVID-19: Some beaches 'extremely crowded' last weekend, Masagos warns against complacency

COVID-19: Some beaches 'extremely crowded' last weekend, Masagos warns against complacency

Large groups gathered at East Coast Park over the weekend of Jul 18 and Jul 19. (Photo: NParks via Facebook/Masagos Zulkifli)

SINGAPORE: Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli on Tuesday (Jul 21) expressed his concern that "some complacency may be setting in", as large groups were found congregating at some beaches last weekend. 

The beaches at East Coast Park and Sentosa last weekend were "extremely crowded", with "a good number" of people not wearing masks despite being reminded. Many of those approached by safe distancing ambassadors or enforcement officers said they were eating or drinking.

"I have been concerned that some complacency may be setting in, at a time when we must keep our guard up," the minister said in a Facebook post.

"Extended exposure to one another without masks and in packed crowds place those involved and others around them at greater risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus."

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The safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers found many groups comprising more than 10 people who were from extended families, or were friends congregating, he added.

"Many of us enjoy meeting and hanging out with friends and family members, and we miss how we used to be able to do this freely," Mr Masagos said.

"But we are still in the midst of a long battle with the COVID-19 pandemic. We must be mindful, and continue being vigilant. This is critical, for us to protect one another."

Signs at East Coast Park over the weekend of Jul 18 and Jul 19 warning that the beach is closed. (Photo: NParks via Facebook/Masagos Zulkifli)

Since early July, NParks has segmented the more popular beachfronts at East Coast Park to control the crowds. Selected sections have also been closed temporarily when these get too crowded.

"We will be stepping up our enforcement," said the minister.

Mr Masagos also highlighted two groups of people who are set to be charged this week over having social gatherings.

Eighteen people will be charged in court after having a social gathering during the "circuit breaker" period. A couple living in Compassvale Crescent had invited 16 people into their residence on the evening of May 8.

Another group of 10 people will be charged in court on Wednesday over a gathering on Jun 28 at a fitness corner in Beo Crescent, where portable tables and chairs were set up, and bottles of liquor were found.

Large groups gathered at East Coast Park over the weekend of Jul 18 and Jul 19, 2020. (Photo: NParks via Facebook/Masagos Zulkifli)

Mr Masagos asked members of the public to do their part in keeping Singapore safe by continuing to observe safe distancing measures.

"COVID-19 remains a threat and we must continue to be socially responsible. Remember to wear a mask at all times except when eating or drinking, or engaging in sports. Keep within a group size of no more than five people and maintain a safe distance of at least 1m from other groups," he said. 

"Do not intermix between groups at parks, beaches and other public spaces.

"To help with contact tracing efforts, please do scan the SafeEntry QR codes set up at designated entry points at parks and along beachfronts before entering these spaces."

Safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers will continue to advise people to adhere to such measures, and "will not hesitate to issue fines on violations", the minister added.

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Source: CNA/jt(mi)

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