Covid-19 In Singapore: What You Need To Know About Your Legal Rights

With the ever-increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in Singapore, the government has taken great steps to increase social distancing. On 3 April 2020, the Government announced Circuit Breaker Measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. On 7 April 2020 the Government announced further measures to enhance social distancing during the Circuit Breaker Measures from 8 April 2020 to 4 May 2020.

Social Distancing, Essential Services, Control Order – What does all that mean to me?

Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures ) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, the government has outlined that you should stay at home as much as possible until 4 May 2020.

You are allowed to go out but only if you need to do the following and anything that is connected with them:

(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; and

(12) to leave Singapore.

Things that you should note:

Under the regulations you are no longer allowed to have any gatherings, in private or public with individuals who are not living in the same household. This means you are no longer allowed to meet with anybody who is not staying in the same house as you.

What about immediate family members, can I visit them?

The simple answer is no, unless you are assisting family members who are below 12 years old or above 60 years old and or those suffering from physical or mental disabilities with their daily needs.

Since I am allowed to exercise, can I exercise together with my family/friends who stay nearby? I mean we always go to the same park, PCN or stadium, I might bump into them there.

Again the answer is no. Individuals are encouraged to limit their social contact to members within the same household. Whilst you may encounter people you know within the vicinity of your home whilst you are out, you should maintain the required social distancing measures such as maintaining a distance of 1m from them.

Can I go to the market/supermarket every day?

Whilst the regulations does not restrict you from leaving your homes to buy essential items such as food every day, you are not encouraged to do so. Each household should try to go to the market once a week to limit the crowds at the market.

Keep in mind that the objective of these enhanced Circuit Breaker Measure is to reduce significant movements and interactions in public and private places so that we can slow down and halt the increasing local transmission of Covid-19 cases.

During the upcoming long weekend, is it advisable that I take my family out?

Most public parks remain open for you to go to, keep in mind the objective of the measures that have been put in place. Visit a park near you to minimise the amount of travelling time. Please remember to check safedistparks.nparks.gov.sg so that you can access how crowded the parks are before making your way there. Keep in mind that NParks will be closely monitoring the visitorship of popular parks and may close them temporarily so that safe distancing can be observed.

Punishments under the regulations:
  1. first time offenders who are found breaching these regulations, an enforcement officer will take down his or her particulars and issue a written stern warning;
  2. Subsequent offences will result in a composition fine or prosecution. The police may also be contacted for follow-up action;

iii. If convicted, first-time offenders can face a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment of up to six months, or both. Second-time offenders can be fined up to $20,000, jailed up to 12 months, or face both penalties.

Is the Government really going to enforce this? 

Yes, indication from media reports suggest that the government is taking this matter very seriously. In the first two days of after the enhanced circuit breaker measures were put in place 10,000 advisories were issued against individuals for flouting the regulations.

Covid-19 and the law; What legal matters can still go on?

COURT SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE DURING THE 7 APRIL TO 4 MAY 2020 CIRCUIT BREAKER MEASURES

In light of the circuit breaker measures announced by the Prime Minister and the Multi Ministry Taskforce, the Honourable Chief Justice has also directed the Supreme Court, State Courts and Family Justice Courts only hear essential and urgent matters during the period from 7 April to 4 May where circuit breaker measures are in place.

Other than these essential and urgent matters, most matters will be adjourned to a date to be fixed:-

Criminal Matters
  1. A Magistrate’s Appeal involving an appellant whose sentence of imprisonment would be completed within or shortly after the circuit breaker period.
  1. A Magistrate’s Appeal involving a sentence of caning where the accused person is approaching 50 years of age.
  2. An application for an order for review of detention.
  3. An application concerning bail or review of bail.
  4. An application for stay of judicial execution.
  5. The production of an arrested person in court within 48 hours.
  6. Applications for the remand of an accused.
  7. Hearings before a Magistrate for assessment of suitability of bailors and application for further detention orders under the Immigration Act.
  8. Pre-Trial-Conferences, Trials and Plead Guilty Mentions concerning remanded accused persons which need to be expedited in the interests of justice (this will be determined by the Court on a case-by-case basis)
Civil Matters

An application for urgent injunction or search order or an application to set aside an injunction or search order. 

Matters relating to the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act 2019.

Matters relating to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act or the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

An application for urgent judicial review in relation to implementation of COVID-19 measures.

Matters relating to the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act.

Matters relating to the Protection from Harassment Act, if there are issues of personal safety involved.

Extension of time for insolvency and restructuring matters.

Applications for interim payments in personal injury cases or in cases where payment is urgently needed.

An application for a stay of execution of a civil judgment.

Family Matters
  1. Urgent matters under the Probate and adoption matters under the Mental Capacity Act such as applications for access to emergency fund.
  2. Child abduction cases where urgent orders are required.
  3. Youth arrest cases where the subject is in remand and would be prejudiced as a result of an adjournment.
  4. Child Protection cases where the safety of the child is at risk.
  5. Beyond Parental Control cases where the youth is in remand.
  6. Family violence proceedings where the matter involves a higher risk of imminent danger.
  7. Maintenance proceedings where urgent hearing is necessary due to the immediate financial needs on the part of the applicant and/or his/her dependents.
Conclusion

All other matters scheduled for hearing during the circuit breaker period which the Court has not assessed to be essential and urgent will be adjourned to such date and will notify the parties. However, should a party still wish for their matter to be heard with the Relevant Period, they must make a request to the Court. Parties should not make a request if the hearing is not essential or urgent merely because it is convenient.

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