Masks must now be worn in public
Exceptions only for children under two and those doing strenuous exercise; 3,000 enforcement officers out to ensure public compliance
Anyone who leaves home must now wear a mask, as Singapore ramps up measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.
In the latest update to social distancing requirements, the multi-ministry task force handling the virus outbreak announced at a press conference yesterday that wearing of masks will be made mandatory with immediate effect.
The only exceptions are for children under the age of two and those out doing strenuous exercises like jogging.
Previously, wearing masks was mandatory only for certain groups, such as those visiting a mall or market, taking public transport, or workers at food and beverage outlets.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the task force, said the exercise to distribute reusable masks country-wide was completed over the weekend.
"We had updated our advisory on masks earlier, based on the latest medical and scientific advice," he said.
"That's why we went down to distribute reusable masks to everyone... (now) the minute you leave your room, or you leave your house, you have to wear a mask."
The minister added that those exercising would have to wear a mask after they are done.
Along with earlier social distancing measures, this latest requirement will be strictly enforced.
Those caught flouting such measures will be fined $300 for a first offence, and $1,000 for a second offence.
If caught a second time, offenders may also be hauled to court and prosecuted.
About 3,000 enforcement officers and ambassadors from multiple agencies will be out to ensure the public's compliance.
Task force co-chair Gan Kim Yong, the Minister for Health, said yesterday that more than 6,200 warnings and 500 fines have been issued since April 7, when the circuit breaker period came into force.
He also revealed that over the past week, public transport and traffic volume has seen a decline of more than 70 per cent.
"Close to 80 per cent of the workforce are now working from home, and crowds have thinned in public places," he said at the press conference.
"Enforcement officers have also observed greater compliance with safe distancing measures over the past one week."
However, he said Singapore remains in a critical situation, and lamented the fact that there were still cases of people loitering about and gathering in public places.
While most of the workforce are now working from home, about 20 per cent who are classified under essential services continue to commute daily.
The task force said it will review the list, with the aim of whittling down the number further to minimise the number of people out in public.
The month-long circuit breaker period is scheduled to run till May 4, and when asked if it could be extended, Mr Gan said the authorities would have to review the situation when the time comes.
But he added that regardless of when the circuit breaker ends, some of the current measures will likely still be in place.
"At the end of the circuit breaker, with or without extension, it's not likely that we will open the entire system altogether and then free for all, everybody do what they like," he said.
"I think many of these measures, even if we were to relax them, it's going to be a gradual process."