| On 1 year ago

COVID-19: Private Gatherings of Any Size — In Homes or In Public — No Longer Allowed Under New Law

Since the Circuit Breakers were announced, it no longer comes as a surprise to Singaporeans whenever the Infectious Diseases Act is updated, or when new temporary measures are put in place. If you haven’t already heard, the latest update to the COVID-19 Temporary Measures Act disallows even private social gatherings of any size—be it at home or in public.

While this comes as a blow to many who still intend on visiting their friends, it’s unsurprising seeing how affairs have escalated rapidly in the past fortnight.

What does the new ban entail?

Under the ban, individuals that do not live under the same roof as one another are barred from having gatherings or parties, regardless of the group size and the venue. Be it in private of their homes, or in public spaces such as parks and Housing Board void decks, they are not allowed to meet face to face, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Tuesday, April 7. This comes as an even stricter rule as compared to the previous advisory of having fewer than 10 people in a gathering.

If the situation does not improve, it may become necessary for the government to requisition buildings that can be converted into accommodations and care facilities. Under the new Bill, Mr Gan can also potentially exercise the right to close premises such as workplaces, schools, recreational facilities and places of worship, to minimise interactions and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

In that case, what is allowed?

The Act lists only 12 situations an individual may leave his or her home, as well as anything reasonably connected with the items on the list. These are:

(1) to work for or with an essential service provider, a specified school or an early childhood development centre

(2) to procure any goods or services from an essential service provider or a specified school

(3) to obtain — (i) medical treatment for a suspected Covid-19 infection at a hospital, medical clinic or any other place, designated by the Director for the treatment of Covid-19; or (ii) medical treatment that is of a pressing nature

(4) to engage in any recreational activity in an open-air stadium, public path or public park alone or with any other individual who lives with you.

(5) where an individual works for or with an essential service provider, to bring the individual’s child or children to a place where the child or children are to be cared for.

(6) to assist any individual who has a physical or mental disability, or is below 12 years of age or above 60 years of age, with his or her daily needs.

(7) to report for enlistment or service under the Enlistment Act.

(8) to report to any law enforcement officer or to attend at any court in accordance with any warrant, summons or order made under any written law or order of a court.

(9) to be present at any place in accordance with a requirement under any written law.

(10) to seek or render help in an emergency.

(11) to move to another place of accommodation.

(12) to leave Singapore.

It also states that individuals must not allow others to enter his or her home except in very limited circumstances, including the provision of an essential service.

The restrictions will last for a total of four weeks, unless updated otherwise, and will go on until 4 May 2020.

I could not emphasise this further—stay at home everyone, and May the 4th be with you all.

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