SINGAPORE: Eight people, who broke COVID-19 regulations by gathering with two others on Boxing Day last year, were fined S$3,000 each on Thursday (May 20).
The eight British nationals had partied with two others on a yacht near Lazarus Island and pleaded guilty to exceeding the maximum group size limit allowed for gatherings during that period.
At the time of the offence on Dec 26, 2020, Singapore was in Phase 2 of its reopening. A limit of five people was imposed on gatherings outside their homes.
The British nationals are: Mark Alexander Bellamy, 29, Annabelle Morgan Duke, 26, Holmes Philip Edward Knatchbull, 27, Amy Georgina Hunt, 30, Amy Alexandra Stewart, 32, Oliver Francis William Campbell, 31, Thomas Cuthbert Williams-Jones, 30, and Benjamin David Waters, 32.
According to TODAY, District Judge Jasvender Kaur told the court: “In order to effectively contain the virus, there is a need for everyone to do their part in abiding by the measures, and those who act irresponsibly must face the music and be adequately punished.”
Two others who were on the yacht - Singapore permanent resident Mark Lau San Mao, 30, and British national Amy Grace Ropner, 28, - were fined S$3,000 in March.
The validity of Lau's re-entry permit will be shortened on his next renewal, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in March. Ropner has been permanently banned from working in Singapore.
According to TODAY, all 10 of them were working and living in Singapore then, but court documents did not state their occupations or whether their work passes will be revoked.
Responding to CNA's queries, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday that it has permanently banned the eight British nationals from working in Singapore for breaching COVID-19 regulations.
Their work passes had earlier been cancelled by their former employers.
"MOM reminds all work pass holders to comply with the rules and follow safe distancing measures, quarantine orders and stay-home notice requirements.
"MOM will continue to take enforcement action against work pass holders who do not abide by the law," it said.
Photos and videos of the gathering on the yacht were shared on social media on Boxing Day last year.
GROUPS INTERMINGLED DURING GATHERING
TODAY reported that the court heard that Hunt had contacted booking agent Marine Bookings last October to charter a yacht for the group. The company later sent her a booking confirmation for Dec 26, 2020 from 11am to 5pm.
On Dec 26, the group met two crew members on the pleasure craft ADVANT at the marina at Sentosa Cove.
They were given a pre-departure briefing by the yacht master, who told them to stay in two groups of five in front and at the back of the craft. The group was also told not to mingle and to wear their mask when not eating or drinking.
During the gathering, the two groups intermingled, ate and drank, and also went into the water intermittently.
The court heard that they did not wear their masks at times, and the yacht master observed that some of them were drunk. The group was seen dancing and partying on the yacht by members of the public sometime in the afternoon.
READ: Licence of pleasure craft suspended after group of people filmed ‘partying on yacht’ near Lazarus
According to TODAY, lawyer Terence Tan, who represented the 10 people, previously showed the court some phone text messages between Hunt and Marine Bookings.
The messages showed that Hunt initially wanted to charter a yacht for five people.
Marine Bookings later said the ADVANT was allowed to hold up to 10 guests after submitting a safe-management proposal to the authorities, said Mr Tan.
When the agent asked Hunt to specify the bookings for two groups of five people, Hunt replied that she had booked for five people and that Lau had made another reservation for five other people.
Hunt and Lau also checked if the ADVANT had the relevant permit, Mr Tan said.
Mr Tan added that his clients acknowledged there was intermingling between the groups and the COVID-19 safe-distancing rules were breached.
In January, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said the pleasure craft ADVANT would be suspended for 30 days over the incident. The ADVANT is owned and operated by boat charter firm Beyond Luxury, reported TODAY.
Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, individuals found to have committed an offence may be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to six months, or both, for their first conviction.
Subsequent offences carry a maximum fine of S$20,000, imprisonment up to 12 months, or both.