Singapore has passed a new bill to ban all events and social gatherings "of any size in both private and public spaces".
Announcing the new laws on April 7, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong said this includes private parties or gatherings with families or friends not living together, at home or in public spaces such as in parks and HDB void decks.
Emphasising the need for heightened measures in view of worrying trends, Gan said Singapore now needs "hard brakes" to slow COVID-19 transmissions. "This circuit breaker is not a holiday."
Gan elaborated on the provisions in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill, which provides the Minister for Health the power to close premises including workplaces, schools, recreational facilities and places of worship. Premises that provide essential services or are in selected economic sectors which are critical for our local and global supply chains can remain open.
For premises that remain open, the Bill also provides powers to set requirements for the premises and the manner of carrying out the business while it is in operation. For example, F&B providers like hawker centres and restaurants can remain open but only for take-away or delivery. Businesses and owners of premises that remain open will also need to implement strict safe distancing measures.
Under the new laws, individuals’ movements and interactions at their place of residence or any specified place can be restricted. This includes their use of common areas such as void decks and shared facilities in HDB estates and private condominiums.
Members of the public are urged to stay home, and only leave house to purchase daily necessities, essential services, or for urgent medical needs. And when they are out, they are required to adhere to the safe distancing measures.
The Bill also provides the option to bring the Requisition of Resources Act (RORA) into effect, for the purposes of containing COVID-19 and caring for the patients and those at risk.
"This allows for the requisition of land, property or services needed to ramp up our healthcare capacity and public health capabilities," Gan explained.
Lastly, the new laws empower the Health Minister or any public officer authorised by the Minister to appoint enforcement officers to take action against individuals, business owners or entities which flout the orders and requirements.
The enforcement officers will include police officers, public officers and health officers appointed under the Infectious Diseases Act.