Singapore fines thousands for COVID safety breaches

No easing off on strict measures amid reopening

Singapore fines thousands for COVID safety breaches

Authorities in Singapore are proving there will be no exemptions from COVID-19 safety rules. Strict enforcement will continue even as the country begins recovery efforts and vaccination drives and the government introduces new return-to-work measures this month.

Officials have handed out close to 10,000 penalties to individuals and organisations for allegedly violating COVID protocols in the past year, according to data from the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Read more: Vaccinations: Will you monitor staff jabs?

Officials said over 7,500 breaches were purportedly committed in relation to safe distancing and safe management measures in public. Meanwhile, 1,800 penalties were directed at people who failed to wear face coverings, the MSE said.

The MOM has also intensified its own crackdown on employers, levying fines on 300 businesses for reportedly ignoring safety protocols. Out of this number, some 140 establishments were forced to close shop until they were able to implement the right measures and amend their processes.

From March 2020, the MOM has been hard at work inspecting over 38,000 worksites and checking whether they adhered to the rules. The ministry also has no plans of easing off on worksite visits in the coming months since more offices are set to reopen. However, MOM officials will also guide employers and employees alike in readjusting to safety protocols in the new normal.

Read more: Are we relaxing COVID measures at work too soon?

With an average of three in four home-based workers now allowed to return to the office, the government will enforce new workplace safety rules this week:

• More employees may return to the workplace to better support in-person collaboration and business operations. Up to 75% of the employees (who are presently able to work from home) can now be at the workplace at any one time, up from the current 50%;

• The current cap on the time an employee spends at the workplace will also be lifted;

• Split team arrangements are no longer mandatory, although companies may continue to adopt such arrangements for business continuity purposes if they so choose;

• Restrictions against cross-deployment across workplaces remain in place.

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