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Photograph: Kashmira Kasmuri

You could be fined up to $10,000 for holding private or public social gatherings in Singapore

The new law prohibits social gatherings of any size in public and private spaces

Delfina Utomo

The nation is in 'circuit breaker' mode right now, which means staying home as much as possible and popping out only for essential goods and services (with a mask on, of course). The measures were put in place to slow down the spread of Covid-19 but there are still groups who have turned a deaf ear to the advice.

To counter this, a law was passed in Parliament on April 7 banning all social gathers of any size in private and public spaces. This means you can't throw house parties or mahjong sessions with anyone you don't already live with. It also restricts the movement of people in specific places, premises and facilities such as common areas in Housing and Development Board estates and private condominiums such as void decks, swimming pools and gyms.

You are, however, allowed to visit family members who might need assistance with their daily needs like caring for elderly relatives or childcare arrangements. You can also continue to walk, run or cycle in public parks either alone or with the people who live with you.

The Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill, which is valid for six months, provides a legal basis to enforce enhanced safe distancing measures. This means that the Health Minister and public officers authorised by him can call upon enforcement officers to take action against people and businesses that are not practising social distancing. 

Those caught flouting the rules will face harsh penalties: a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment of up to six months, or both for first-time offenders. For subsequent offences, the penalty is a fine of up to S$20,000, imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both.

Even without the deterrent, we should all play our part by staying home and keeping those around us safe. Bored? We've got plenty of online resources like where to get food delivery, groceries and also exercise to keep you occupied.

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