Singapore advises public to stay indoors and buy food online

Bloomberg March 28 | Updated on March 28, 2020

A visitor sits on the empty quayside in Singapore.   -  Bloomberg

The breach of Stay-Home Notices and safe-distancing measures is a criminal offence, says the government.

Singapore advised the public to stay at home in its latest effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the city state is facing a grave economic challenge posed by the pandemic.

The public should only head to malls for essential items such as food, the government said in an advisory on its official WhatsApp channel, suggesting that people buy food and groceries online. The latest directive is another blow to the country’s retail malls and tourism-related industries.

The government also advised all foreign workers and foreign domestic workers to stay at their residence on their days off, and re-iterated the importance of safe-distancing measures.

Singapore has so far refrained from ordering a nationwide lockdown unlike India, New Zealand and several European countries, even as confirmed cases have risen to 732. Yet the government on Thursday announced stricter measures, saying it was a criminal offence to breach government-ordered Stay-Home Notices and safe-distancing measures.

Those include gatherings outside of work or school of more than 10 people and physical distancing of at least one meter in settings where interactions are non-transient. The maximum penalty for either offence is a fine of S$10,000 ($7,000) and six months imprisonment.

The government has also implemented measures such as barring the entry of short-term visitors, directing all events and mass gatherings to be deferred or cancelled until at least April 30 and shutting bars and cinemas.

Singapore’s economy contracted an annualized 10.6% in the first quarter from the previous three months, the most in a decade, with the government now expecting a sharp full-year contraction of 1%-4%.

Published on March 28, 2020

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