SINGAPORE: Two people were fined S$300 on Saturday (Apr 11) for not complying with safe distancing rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).

The two cases were among 34 enforcement actions taken by NEA enforcement officers against those who disregarded the measures at markets and cooked food sections of hawker centres, the agency said.

In the first case, a man who had been loitering at a pavilion near the market and hawker centre at Block 341 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 refused to leave despite being told to do so, prompting police to be activated.

The man’s particulars were recorded and he was issued a written warning before leaving, however the man later returned after the police left. He would be issued with a S$300 fine, NEA said.

In the second case, a man who was sitting on an unsecured chair within a hawker centre at Block 538 Bedok North Street 3 was advised to leave by NEA officers after it was found he was not waiting for any food orders.

However, he refused to comply and hurled vulgarities at the officers, before flinging the chair against the wall outside the hawker centre. Police assistance was called in and the man was fined S$300.

The COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore, which has killed eight people and infected nearly 2,300, has prompted the Government to put in place safe distancing measures, such as bans on dining-in at food establishments and queue markings to maintain 1m separation between people at markets.

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The Government announced on Saturday that first time offenders of safe distancing rules will be fined S$300 instead of getting a written warning starting on Sunday.

“The enforcement actions will be tightened from 12 April 2020 onwards, where a fine of S$300 will be applicable in the first instance, and for repeat offenders, higher fines will be imposed or there will be prosecution in court for egregious cases,” the agency said.

Also from Sunday, markets managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators would also bar entry to people not wearing face masks.

On Saturday, about 320 NEA enforcement officers were deployed to conduct inspections on compliance with elevated safe distancing measures at markets and cooked food sections of hawker centres. 

The enforcement officers were supported by more than 200 SG Clean Ambassadors, NEA said.

The agency added that about 90 per cent of patrons and stallholders at markets islandwide were observed to be wearing masks on Saturday.

“While this is a heartening observation, NEA urges patrons to continue to don masks when visiting all markets,” the agency said.

“Given the crowded and closed-in environment in markets, all patrons should wear masks for their own safety and well-being, as well as that of other patrons.”

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