Mask-less crowds gathering at game courts breaches of Covid-19 measures: Grace Fu

PHOTO: Facebook/Grace Fu

While it's good to lead an active lifestyle, safety is still the priority as Singapore weathers the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a Facebook post on Monday (Aug 17), Grace Fu reminded the public to abide by prevailing public health rules when they exercise outdoors.

The Minister for Sustainability and the Environment noted that she has received numerous feedback regarding breaches of safety measures at public spaces such as game courts located in various HDB estates.

"Large groups of residents continue to gather frequently at the game courts for games, and often without their masks when they are not engaging in any sports or strenuous activities," she wrote.

This, despite the efforts of safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers on the ground.

As the #exMCCYwoman, I recognise the importance of leading an active lifestyle. Sports is something that I greatly...

Posted by Grace Fu on Monday, August 17, 2020

Town Councils are monitoring the situation closely, she said, but if residents continue to defy the rules, they will block off access to the community facilities.

Reminding the public that everyone needs to play a part in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, Fu said: "Remember that community vigilance is our first line of defence. We are responsible for our own health, and the safety of our loved ones."

In the comments section, she also explained why the rules cannot be bent to accommodate everyone's wishes.

PHOTOS: Facebook screengrabs

A netizen observed that physical distancing does not apply on public transport, and suggested that the rule of five could be expanded to groups of 20.

"In sport, we breathe hard and expel a lot of [droplets] from our upper respiratory tract. In the buses or train, we advise people not to talk loudly. So the nature of activity matters," she explained.

Community facilities such as basketball and futsal courts were reopened in Phase 2 (June 19) with safe management measures in place to safeguard public health.

However, just four days into the new phase, a positive Covid-19 case disregarded safe management measures and played badminton with a big group at the ActiveSG Jurong East Indoor Sport Hall.

It resulted in a temporary closure of the facility for disinfection and cleaning, as well as a day's time-out as SportSG called for all users to "reflect on the importance of exercising individual responsibility for the collective good, so that we can overcome Covid-19 together".

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Even as restrictions eased up during Phase 2, Singapore is not out of the woods yet, former Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulfiki cautioned back in July after large crowds were spotted at the beaches of East Coast Park and Sentosa.

In recent days, people were also spotted gathering at public spaces such as Toa Payoh Town Park and a coffeeshop in Sengkang, sparking public concern about potential coronavirus transmission.

Safe distancing rules include keeping a maximum of five people in a group, maintaining a one-metre distance apart and no intermingling between groups. Everyone also has to wear a mask at all times unless eating, drinking or engaging in strenuous exercise.

As of today (Aug 20), Singapore has recorded 56,099 cases of Covid-19, with 27 deaths from related complications.

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.

lamminlee@asiaone.com