Playmade bubble tea shop first establishment fined for flouting COVID-19 safe distancing measures
SINGAPORE: A bubble tea shop became the first establishment to be fined for flouting safe distancing measures, while dozens of shops and businesses were shut as they were not supposed to open for business during the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period.
Playmade by 丸作 at Waterway Point was fined S$1,000 because it did not enforce safe distancing measures properly despite repeated warnings, said Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in a joint media statement on Thursday (Apr 9).
The outlet had failed to implement a crowd management system and allowed customers to "crowd together" without 1m spacing between one another, said the authorities.
If it continues to flout the rules, it will face higher fines and could be charged in court, they added.
READ: COVID-19: Singapore makes 'decisive move' to close most workplaces and impose full home-based learning for schools, says PM Lee
As part of the elevated safe distancing measures that kicked in on Tuesday, part of a "circuit breaker" until May 4 to tackle the novel coronavirus, only essential services such as food establishments and markets are allowed to stay open.
Despite these measures, many non-essential businesses continued to stay open.
Over the second and third day of the "circuit breaker" period, 85 businesses were instructed to cease operations following enforcement checks by Enterprise Singapore and STB.
The businesses had either remained open despite providing non-essential services or had failed to enforce safe distancing measures properly.
Some of the non-essential businesses which continued to stay open included shops selling beauty products, phone accessories and general household product retailers and travel agencies.
Shops in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates also flouted the regulations.
HDB on Thursday shut 150 shops selling mainly household and personal care items. Their owners were issued stern warnings.
Since the new measures kicked in, 7,000 non-essential shops at HDB estates have been required to close, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said in a separate media release.
A total of 153 stern warnings were issued on Thursday to those who flouted the safe distancing rules. Since the circuit breaker measures kicked in on Tuesday, 158 stern warnings have been issued.
"Police assistance was required for several cases where members of the public were not cooperative when asked to leave," said MEWR.
STEPPED UP ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS
The authorities have also been taking steps to reduce the number of places where people can congregate.
HDB and the town councils have cordoned off more than 20,000 playgrounds, game courts and seating facilities in the open spaces and void decks of HDB estates, said MEWR.
By Friday, crowd management measures will also be put in place at 40 "popular markets which draw crowds", said the ministry.
More than 720 playgrounds and fitness areas have been closed off across NParks-managed gardens, parks and nature reserves. Eight fishing spots have also been closed off.
Urging members of the public to stay home, MEWR warned that the police have patrolled areas in Yishun, Toa Payoh West, Haig Road and Boon Lay Food Centre where people were observed "loitering and sitting around".
"Firm action will be taken on non-compliance," warned the ministry.
Since Apr 7, Enterprise Singapore and STB have also checked up on more than 15,2000 businesses, said the two authorities.
These include about 12,200 food and beverage and retail outlets across 88 shopping malls, and 3,000 tourism-related establishments in areas such as Chinatown, Little India and Orchard Road.
The majority of these places were compliant with the elevated safe distancing measures, said the authorities.
Earlier on Thursday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said that the Government will be “stepping up on enforcement” of the elevated safe distancing measures.
If a member of the public does not keep to the safe distancing measures, including refusing to comply with directions from an enforcement officer, their particulars will be taken down and they will be issued with a written stern warning.
A second offence will result in a fine of S$300, and subsequent offences will lead to prosecution in court.
"In egregious cases, there may be prosecution even if it is a first offence," said MEWR. "The police may also be contacted for follow-up action."
Action will also be taken against non-compliant businesses, said Enterprise Singapore and STB.
"Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act passed in Parliament on Apr 7, 2020, first-time offenders will face a fine of up to S$10,000, imprisonment of up to six months, or both," they said. "Subsequent offences may face a fine of up to S$20,000, imprisonment of up to twelve months, or both."
Singapore on Thursday saw a record 287 new cases of COVID-19, taking the total number of cases reported in the country to 1,910.
A large number of these were linked to foreign worker dormitories, which have seen a surge in coronavirus cases in recent days.
So far, Singapore has reported six deaths linked to COVID-19.