Written reply to Parliamentary Question on Safe Distancing at Coffee Shops and Hawker Centres by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Safe Distancing at Coffee Shops and Hawker Centres, on 5 October 2020
Mr Yip Hon Weng: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) what are the protocols for enforcement of safe distancing measures at coffee shops and hawker centres in HDB heartlands after office hours; and (b) how are safe distancing ambassadors trained to handle drunk and rowdy patrons.
Compliance with Safe Management Measures (SMMs) and Safe Distancing Measures (SDMs) is an important part of Singapore’s national effort to curb the transmission of COVID-19.
Every day, around 3,000 Safe Distancing Ambassadors and Enforcement Officers from government agencies are deployed to enforce these measures, with more being deployed during peak dining hours and weekends, and in more crowded hawker centres and coffeeshops. They take on different shifts, starting as early as 6am for certain areas.
In recent weeks, agencies have stepped up enforcement at Food and Beverage establishments, including hawker centres and coffeeshops. As at 1 October 2020, three drinks stalls at coffeeshops have been temporarily suspended for serving and allowing the consumption of alcohol by their patrons after 10.30pm. Two coffeeshops were fined for not adhering to one metre safe distancing between tables, and another was fined for allowing gatherings in groups of more than five.
Before they are deployed, our ambassadors and officers are trained on the safe distancing and management measures, as well as the rules of engagement with premise operators and members of the public. They are deployed in teams of at least two officers and the more experienced staff will be partnered with new officers to guide and support them. They are reminded not to put themselves in harm’s way, and to engage the assistance of the Police when needed. While most residents in the community have been cooperative, a small number of individuals have been defiant and abusive, especially when they are drunk and rowdy. For such cases, agencies were given the full support of the Police in identifying, apprehending and eventually charging the culprits.
Enforcement is only but a part of how we manage the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of keeping our community safe. What is equally, if not more important, is the cooperation from premise operators and the community to do their part in observing the safe distancing and management measures, even when there are no ambassadors and officers around, so that we continue to keep community transmission under control.