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COVID-19: Man fined S$2,500 for attending barbecue at East Coast Park with 11 others

COVID-19: Man fined S$2,500 for attending barbecue at East Coast Park with 11 others

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

SINGAPORE: A man was fined S$2,500 by a court on Monday (Apr 19) for attending a barbecue party at East Coast Park with 11 others in December last year, amid COVID-19 measures limiting social gatherings to no more than five people. 

Theepan Subramaniam, a 27-year-old security officer, pleaded guilty to one charge of gathering with a "cohort" of more than five people outside his home for a non-permitted purpose.

The court heard that Theepan was invited by a friend to a party at a barbecue pit at East Coast Park to celebrate the 12th anniversary of a car club called Godstar. 

He arrived at the barbecue pit with two friends at 9pm on Dec 19, 2020, a Saturday. Within an hour, at least 10 people had gathered there.

By about 1am on Dec 20, 2020, there were at least 12 people at the venue - eating, drinking and intermingling, not wearing their masks and not keeping a metre's distance from each other.

At about 12.30am on Dec 20, 2020, a man called the police and said: "There are more than 20 subjects at the seaside not following SDM (social distancing measures)."

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lim asked for a fine of between S$2,000 and S$2,500 for Theepan. He noted that Theepan came to court because this was his third breach - he had been given out-of-court fines in May and August last year.

The judge told Theepan that he was one of the youngest in the group but had already clocked up several instances of such a breach.

"What I'm trying to explain to you is - you need to take it seriously, because it's still a public health risk that we all need to do our part," he said.

He gave Theepan until May 10 to pay his fine in full.

 Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli had said in July 2020 that "some complacency may be setting in" as large groups were found congregating at East Coast Park and Sentosa over the weekend.

On Christmas Eve last year, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment reminded the public to continue to be socially responsible and take COVID-19 safe management measures seriously during the festive period.

The penalties for a first-time offender breaking a COVID-19 law are a maximum jail term of six months and a fine of up to S$10,000.

Source: CNA/ll(hs)

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