New law to boost cleanliness in high-risk areas like hawker centres
Eldercare facilities, hawker centres, schools and other high-risk premises will have to develop and implement an environmental sanitation programme next year.
This will include thorough cleaning at least every six months, daily cleaning of toilets and lifts and a pest management plan. These are some of the new mandatory sanitation standards in the Environmental Public Health (Amendment) Bill, which was passed in Parliament yesterday.
The Bill seeks to raise Singapore's general standards of hygiene and instil a national culture of keeping the country clean, which will help in the fight against future disease outbreaks here.
Presenting the Bill for debate, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu noted that despite Singapore's reputation as a clean and green city, there is still room for improvement.
She cited the results of a survey by the Singapore Management University that was released last month which found that one in five people thought it acceptable to leave rubbish around if there was already litter in the area.
"Clearly, we still have some way to go to inculcate a strong sense of social responsibility in Singaporeans to do their part to keep public spaces clean," she said.
Ms Fu added that the Covid-19 pandemic underscores the need for high standards of sanitation and hygiene.
"Covid-19 will not be the last global pandemic that we have to face. We must shore up our public health defences and be ready to contain emerging outbreaks when they come," she said.
Under the new Bill, higher-risk premises with high footfall or vulnerable occupants such as pre-schools, youth facilities, eldercare facilities, hawker centres and coffee shops have to develop and roll out an environmental sanitation programme.
The responsibility of developing and implementing such a programme will fall to premise managers and environmental control coordinators or environmental control officers, who will be appointed by the premise managers. The National Environment Agency said yesterday it is currently developing courses to train these officers and coordinators.
Said Ms Fu: "This Bill marks another milestone in our efforts to keep Singapore clean and safe... Through collective action and co-ownership, we will forge a cleaner, stronger and kinder Singapore for generations to come."