Law gives minister power to prohibit events, impose conditions, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Law gives minister power to prohibit events, impose conditions

This article is more than 12 months old

While most Singaporeans are responsible and will comply with safe distancing measures, a few will shrug off the situation and blatantly disregard the rules, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday.

For instance, they may loiter and mingle in groups in public areas instead of staying at home, or refuse to adhere to safe distancing measures at food establishments or supermarkets.

"We will not hesitate to take action against such persons and send a strong signal to prevent such behaviour from negating our collective efforts during this crucial circuit breaker to slow down the infection," he added.

Parliament yesterday passed the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill, which will empower the minister or any authorised public officer to appoint enforcement officers to act against individuals, business owners or entities flouting the rules.

Among other powers, he can close premises such as workplaces, schools, recreational facilities and places of worship to minimise interactions, and set requirements for premises in key economic sectors or essential services that can continue operating, like letting food establishments open only for takeaway or delivery.

The minister can also restrict the movement and interactions of individuals at their place of residence or other places, as well as their use of common areas such as void decks, and shared facilities in HDB estates and private condominiums.

While a strong signal needs to be sent to those who flout the measures egregiously, enforcement officers will look at whether there were reasonable explanations for non-compliance, Mr Gan said.

He stressed that under the law, the health minister may issue control orders only when he is satisfied the spread of Covid-19 constitutes a serious threat to public health, and their provisions are necessary or expedient to prevent or contain it.

Mr Gan noted the latest measures offer an important opportunity to slow the Covid-19 infection significantly.

"The key message is simply this: 'Stay home. Go out only for essential activities. Avoid close contact with people. If you can't avoid close contact, wear a mask to protect others and to protect yourself.' Everyone must play (his or her) part for the circuit breaker to be effective," he stressed. - THE STRAITS TIMES