Singapore

Those caught flouting SHN will be charged in court: Shanmugam

People who disobey or lie to avoid stay-home notices will be charged in court

Those caught flouting stay-home rules will be charged in court, warned Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam in Parliament yesterday.

Citing reports of returning residents acting irresponsibly by heading out to parties or social gatherings, Mr Shanmugam said authorities will investigate such cases.

"We cannot allow such behaviour. So I have given very clear instructions, where these cases are verified to be true, we will charge in court," he said in his reply to Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC).

In sounding this warning, the minister brought up anecdotes of recent returnees from the United Kingdom heading out to parties, bars, clubs and other social gatherings while they were under the stay-home notice.

He also highlighted a report of a Singaporean returning from Myanmar who was issued with the notice, and subsequently posted about going out for bak kut teh - a pork rib dish cooked in broth - on his Facebook page.

"There is a wider duty that each of us owes to control the spread of Covid-19, and really not to endanger others and expose them to infection," said Mr Shanmugam.

The Health Ministry will use new regulations under the Infectious Diseases Act to enforce stay-home notices, he added.

First-time offenders can be jailed up to six months, fined up to $10,000 or both.

Mr Shanmugam also said people who are required to declare their travel history must do so honestly, or face severe penalties.

He raised as an example an alleged case of a man who had developed respiratory symptoms after a holiday in Italy.

The man was said to have hid his symptoms and travel history in order to return to Singapore, where he was later found to have Covid-19.

IRRESPONSIBLE

"If this is true, the conduct is highly irresponsible," said Mr Shanmugam, noting that the individual would have done so knowing he was endangering others.

Those who lie in order to avoid stay-home notices can be fined and jailed up to two years under the Penal Code, or jailed up to a year and fined up to $4,000, or both, under the Immigration Act.

He called on people to report any information on those who flout stay-home rules to the police, who will follow up on the cases and take action.

But Mr Shanmugam said strict regulation and strong enforcement is not enough if people continue to insist on being irresponsible.

"All Singaporeans have to do our part, exercise social responsibility, protect ourselves, friends, family, fellow citizens," he said.

The vast majoriy of Singaporeans are responsible and have come together and acted admirably, he added.

"But, there will always be a few who are irresponsible in every society, and they risk undoing our efforts and put other people's lives at risk."

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