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Where's social distancing? MPA investigating after group of 10 spotted partying on yacht at Lazarus Island

Where's social distancing? MPA investigating after group of 10 spotted partying on yacht at Lazarus Island
PHOTO: Facebook screengrabs

Blue skies, clear waters and sandy beaches make for the perfect island getaway.

While many in Singapore have been hopping onto ferries to the Southern Islands to spend time with their families and friends, some have been spotted flouting Covid-19 rules at what appears to be a Christmas party.

In video clips circulating on Facebook on Dec 26, a group of about 10 men and women were seen making merry on board a yacht at Lazarus Island, decked out in swimwear and Santa hats.

None of them was seen wearing a face mask, a stark contrast to other visitors on the shore who were sporting them.

The clips soon had netizens questioning the lack of social distancing.

At the time of the alleged sighting, Singapore was still in Phase 2 of its reopening where social gatherings of up to five were allowed.

It is also compulsory for everyone to wear a mask outside of their homes at all times unless they are eating and drinking or engaging in strenuous exercise.

The latest incident took place despite recent reports of a group of visitors who were punished for breaching safe distancing measures at the Southern Islands.

They were caught having a 12-person gathering while island-hopping on Aug 8, said the Singapore Land Authority which manages the islands. The incident came to light after one of them shared photos of the trip on Instagram.


The group, consisting of 10 Britons, a Singaporean and a Singapore permanent resident, were subsequently charged in court in October.

Several of them were slapped with a $3,000 fine each for taking part in an unlawful gathering on Lazarus Island during the pandemic. Five of the convicted foreigners were also permanently banned from working in Singapore, said the Ministry of Manpower in November.

Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, first-time offenders can be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to six months, or both. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $20,000, jailed for up to a year, or both.

MPA investigating incident

In response to AsiaOne's queries, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said on Wednesday (Dec 30) it is currently investigating the incident.

"MPA takes a serious view of any breach of COVID-19 regulations and will not hesitate to take action against such breaches," a spokesperson added.

"MPA regularly patrols our waters. We urge the public, as well as vessel owners and operators, to be responsible and comply with all COVID-19 safe management measures including wearing a mask, and adhering to passenger limits onboard pleasure crafts."

In an advisory on Dec 24, MPA noted increased travels to the Southern Islands and Pulau Ubin and put in place safe distancing measures at both Marina South Pier and Changi Point ferry terminals.

Prior to the reopening of the beaches at St John's, Lazarus and Kusu Island to the public on June 19, SLA had reminded visitors to be socially responsible. Enforcement officers and safe distancing ambassadors were also deployed to the islands to ensure adherence to the safe distancing measures.

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.

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