Singapore Expats Flouting Virus Rules Spark Alcohol Curbs

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore authorities ordered several restaurants in a neighborhood popular with expatriates to immediately stop selling takeaway alcohol, after several foreigners didn’t adhere to social distancing measures outside of the premises.

Enforcement action will be taken against business operators and individuals for non-compliance, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said in a Facebook post Monday. Those who flout social distancing rules face a S$300 ($211) fine for the first offense.

“The circuit breaker can only work when everybody plays their part,” said Masagos, referring to measures under an extended partial lockdown that’s now into its seventh week.

His comments came after several photos circulated on social media this past weekend showing people gathering along Robertson Quay, a drinking and dining area located a few minutes away from the city-state’s financial district. The pictures show some standing outside a restaurant with half-empty cups of beer on the tables, while there were others who weren’t wearing masks now made compulsory when outdoors.

The police are investigating a number of the “non-Singaporeans” who had gathered, according to Masagos. He also urged the public to report offenders through an app originally created for the public to raise municipal issues such as dirty residential areas and littering.

In April, Singapore passed temporary new laws that banned both public and private gatherings of any size as it sought to ramp up social distancing measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Fight Far From Over

Singapore is still racing to contain an infection outbreak among thousands of foreign workers, which have pushed its total tally past 28,000 cases as of Monday and made the tiny city-state one of Asia’s most infected nation. To decisively bring down community cases, the government extended its partial lockdown -- which saw closures of schools and most workplaces -- to June 1.

“The fight against Covid-19 is far from over. Countries around the world are racing to curb a second wave of infections,” said Masagos. “We will enforce against anybody found breaching safe distancing measures.”

Early on in its virus fight in Feburary, Singapore revoked the work permits of some foreigners caught at their places of employment during a mandatory leave-of-absence period, and repatriated them. In April, when authorities found 24 work pass holders eating, drinking and gathering in groups, they revoked all their work passes and permanently barred the individuals from working in Singapore.

Authorities have also hauled Singaporeans to court, charging them for breaching quarantine orders and flouting measures imposed under lockdown such as not wearing masks in public. In one case, a local who did not comply with a stay-home notice and instead left his home to eat pork rib soup was jailed six weeks.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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