SINGAPORE: A total of 150 shops were shut by the authorities on Thursday (Apr 9) as they were not supposed to open for business during the COVID-19 “circuit breaker” period.

These shops that were shut by Housing and Development Board (HDB) were mainly selling household and personal care items. Their owners were issued stern warnings.

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. 

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 media release.

READ: COVID-19: Singapore makes ‘decisive move’ to close most workplaces and impose full home-based learning for schools, says PM Lee

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.

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.

READ: COVID-19: Fines, prosecution in court for repeat offenders of ‘circuit breaker’ measures

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.

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.”

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.

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