SINGAPORE - A total of 39 people were found socialising in illegal entertainment outlets in the latest police operation following the emergence of the KTV cluster last week.
In a release on Sunday (July 18), the police said they have arrested three men, aged between 24 and 37, for supplying liquor without a licence.
The men are believed to be operators of the outlets along Selegie Road and Tagore Lane.
The other 36 people - 16 men and 20 women - are being investigated for not complying with safe distancing rules. They are aged between 20 and 38.
During the operation on Saturday, the police seized karaoke equipment, liquor bottles and beer cans from the outlets.
They said public entertainment and liquor are believed to have been provided at the outlets without a valid licence.
"Members of the public are advised to take the prevailing safe distancing measures seriously," the police added.
"The police take a stern view of irresponsible behaviour relating to the flouting of safe distancing measures, and offenders will be dealt with in accordance with the law."
Those found guilty of supplying liquor and providing public entertainment without a valid licence may be fined up to $20,000 a charge.
Those convicted of breaching safe distancing measures may be jailed for up to six months, fined up to $10,000, or both.
The operation comes amid calls from the public for harsher clampdowns on the illicit nightlife sector, following the announcement of the KTV cluster by the Ministry of Health on July 12.
The cluster, which involves social hostesses who had purportedly frequented KTV lounges and clubs, grew to more than 170 cases on Sunday.
The recent operation is the third reported one conducted by the police in the span of a week, targeting the nightlife entertainment sector.
In an operation from July 13 to 15, the police checked 27 pivoted KTVs operating as food and beverage establishments.
Officers checked a total of 281 people in the islandwide anti-crime operation, and arrested 29 women for offences under the Women’s Charter, the Immigration Act and the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
Of these women, 10 are to be deported after they were found to be hostesses and deemed undesirable immigrants.
Of the 27 outlets, 11 were also found to have possibly breached safe management measures.
In another operation on July 13, the police arrested 20 women of various nationalities for their suspected involvement in vice-related activities within three KTVs along South Bridge Road, Selegie Road and Geylang Road that had pivoted to F&B.
The three KTVs are also being investigated for breaches of safe management measures.
Mr Joseph Ong, president of the Singapore Nightlife Business Association, told The Straits Times that the recent operations and arrests show that there are still many illegal operators who have disguised themselves with legitimate frontages.
"The nightlife business industry has been badly affected by these illegal operators, and people mistakenly associate them with legitimate nightlife businesses because they operate mainly at night," he said.
"The authorities should take a very firm stance against all of these bad actors and not allow them to operate in any shape or form."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.