COVID-19: Man jailed and fined for hosting large gatherings, including birthday party involving 40 people
SINGAPORE: A 25-year-old man was sentenced to two weeks' jail and fined more than S$15,000 on Monday (Aug 23) for breaching COVID-19 restrictions by hosting large social gatherings, which included a birthday party involving 40 people.
Joel Ang Yun Nan pleaded guilty to two charges each of exceeding the maximum group size for gatherings and providing public entertainment without a licence or exemption, according to TODAY.
Three other similar charges, including supplying alcohol without a liquor licence, were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Ang was jailed two weeks and fined S$15,500. He has to serve about two more months in jail if he is unable to pay the fine.
According to TODAY, Ang was arrested for two large parties in an industrial building over two weekends. He broke COVID-19 restrictions again by organising another large gathering several months later.
HOSTED BIRTHDAY PARTY INVOLVING 40 PEOPLE
The first party Ang hosted on Jan 8 for his birthday involving 40 people. During that time, Singapore was in Phase 3 of its reopening, with social gatherings of up to eight people allowed from Dec 28, 2020.
The court heard that Ang and another man, Kenneth Chua Wei Lun, decided in December last year to host parties at a unit in Midview City in Sin Ming.
The unit was rented by Music Production Studio, which Ang was an authorised representative, said TODAY.
Ang and Chua jointly decided on what sound equipment and to buy for the unit. They also agreed to split the profits from selling liquor there. Chua funded the venture while Ang took charge of its daily operations.
Ang did not charge patrons an entry fee but sold alcohol. Customers would pay in cash or through the DBS Paynow electronic payment system.
He advertised his business by sending message to his friends, who would spread the word in their social circles.
Chua was fined S$15,000 in May.
UNIT OPENED FOR GATHERINGS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS
Ang had opened the unit for gatherings on several occasions before the Jan 8 party.
To dispel suspicions that he was running an illegal entertainment venue, he lied to police officers that none of the attendees were charged for alcohol, and that he was the host and paid for them.
On the evening of his party on Jan 8, Midview City's security team told its operations manager about music playing and people entering and leaving the unit.
The manager called the police after he checked the unit around midnight. He noticed that the unit was locked but found people waiting around it.
At about 3.10am, the police searched the unit and found 40 people aged between 17 and 32, including Chua and Ang.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yeow Xuan said that Ang failed to roll out SafeEntry check-ins or temperature screenings for the guests, many of whom stayed for almost five hours.
Guests were also served alcohol after 10.30pm. Establishments holding liquor licences are not allowed to serve alcohol past 10.30pm.
Chua, Ang and Music Production Studio did not have a liquor licence.
While Ang was being investigated for this breach, he proceeded to host another party at the same location the following weekend with 12 other people.
On Jan 17 at about 3.30am, police officers checked the unit again.
They found seven men and six women, aged between 19 and 36, drinking alcohol and drinking in the unit, with music playing from the speakers. Ang was among them.
He was arrested and released on bail after being charged in court.
About four months later, and soon before he was set to plead guilty to his earlier offences, Ang approached a friend to organise another gathering to "chill" and drink at Ho Tat Song in Jalan Besar.
After midnight on May 17, police officers patrolling the area checked the premises and found the group drinking and singing without face masks.
They also found at least seven bottles of liquor, seven speakers, one karaoke display and four microphones.
During that time, Singapore had entered Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) on May 16 following a spike in COVID-19 community cases. Group sizes for social gatherings were reduced from five to two and dining in was suspended.
At least one other attendee, Jayden Ang Jin Jie, aged 20, had pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced on Thursday.
For breaching COVID-19 restrictions, those found guilty may be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000 or both.
Repeat offenders could be jailed up to a year, fined up to S$20,000, or both.
For providing public entertainment without a licence, Ang could have been fined up to S$20,000.