Singaporeans could face jail time under new social distancing rules

AFP

World, Asia

Under the new rules, Singaporeans intentionally close to someone could be jailed for six months

Commuters wear face masks on the Mass Rapid Transit train as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Singapore

Singapore: Singaporeans could be jailed for up to six months if they intentionally stand close to someone else, under tough new rules announced Friday to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The city-state has introduced a series of new measures to tackle the virus, including closing bars and cinemas as well as banning large events.

One step aimed at ensuring "social-distancing" -- a key approach being used worldwide to halt the spread of the contagious disease -- is a ban on individuals standing less than one metre (three feet) apart in certain settings.

People are barred from intentionally standing too close to someone else in a queue, or sitting on a seat less than one metre from another individual in a public place, according to the regulations.

Those found guilty of breaking the rules face a jail term of up to six months and a maximum fine of Sg$10,000 (US$7,000).

Business owners are also required to take steps such as putting seats not fixed to the ground at least one metre apart, and making sure that people keep their distance when queueing.

They face the same punishments if found to have broken the rules.

The health ministry said earlier this week that "we must implement tighter safe distancing measures now to minimise activities and exposure".

The city-state has reported 683 virus infections and two deaths, but has won praise for its approach and has so far avoided going into a total lockdown.

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