SINGAPORE: A British national and his fiancee, a Singapore citizen, were charged on Friday (Jan 15) after he breached stay-home notice requirements to spend time with her at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia, where he was serving his notice.
British national Skea Nigel, 52, was serving a 14-day stay-home notice at the hotel when he left his room without a mask on three occasions on Sep 21 last year.
According to court documents, he loitered along the corridor outside his room on the 14th floor twice, for about 10 minutes each time.
On the third occasion, he met his Singaporean fiancee, Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai, 39. She was not serving a stay-home notice but had booked a different room on the 27th floor of the same hotel.
The pair met on the 27th floor, with Eyamalai opening the emergency exit door for Nigel, the charge sheet read. They then spent the night together in the room from about 2.30am to 11.40am.
Nigel was charged under the Infectious Diseases (COVID-19 – Stay Orders) Regulations 2020 and COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020.
For abetting his breach of stay-home notice requirements, his fiancee was charged under the Infectious Diseases (COVID-19 – Stay Orders) Regulations 2020 read with Section 109 of the Penal Code, said ICA.
In response to queries by CNA, the Ritz-Carlton Millenia said the hotel observes “all government-mandated regulations applicable to hotels when accommodating guests who may be on stay-home notices”.
“For privacy reasons, we are unable to provide any further comment on specific incidents,” a spokesperson said.
READ: COVID-19 – What it’s like serving a stay-home notice in a hotel
Singapore’s containment measures depend on good management of the hotels used as stay-home notice facilities, said Mr Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, in a ministerial statement in Parliament last week.
“We make sure these facilities have strict protocols in place to segregate persons on (stay-home notice) from all other guests,” said Mr Wong.
“These include placing them in segregated blocks, wings or floors, clearly demarcating their route of movement, and instituting regular cleaning and disinfection regimes.”
People on stay-home notice are also not allowed to use common facilities in the hotels.
“Even with the multiple layers of safeguards, the risk of leaks, though small, remains,” said Mr Wong, who is also Education Minister.
He cited MOH’s investigation into 13 imported COVID-19 cases, who served their stay-home notice at Mandarin Hotel, as they were observed to have “high genetic similarity” despite coming from different countries.
The hotel was allowed to have staycation guests while taking in people on stay-home notice because the areas of operations were kept “quite separate”, Mr Wong told media in December last year.
“The (stay-home notice) by and large in Singapore has been effective,” said Mr Wong.
“We have had many, many months of experience with (stay-home notice). All the hotel operators have been … responsible. They have taken it upon themselves to ensure that protocol, security, everything is done properly.”
SECURITY OFFICER WORKED DURING STAY-HOME NOTICE PERIOD
Another Singaporean who returned from Batam on Mar 17 last year was also charged on Friday with breaching stay-home notice requirements.
“Instead of proceeding to the declared (stay-home notice) address on the same day, he took a bus and wandered around Geylang Serai before spending the night at a Bedok housing estate,” said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) in a media release.
Abdul Rahman B Mohamed Hanafiah, 71, also went back to work as a security officer at 22 Jalan Terusan during the period from Mar 18 to Mar 24, without informing his company or manager of his stay-home notice.
During the 14-day stay-home notice period, the man also spent time in various public places, added ICA.
These included Geylang Serai, Haig Road, Joo Chiat Complex, the Bedok area and the Block 35 Chai Chee Avenue Neighbourhood Police Post, according to court documents.
He was charged under the Infectious Diseases Act on Friday.
“To safeguard our community’s health and safety, everyone needs to play their part and comply with the (stay-home notice) requirements,” said ICA.
“All travellers are to comply with the prevailing public health regulations and requirements in Singapore.”
Those convicted under the Infectious Diseases (COVID-19 – Stay Orders) Regulations 2020 face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to S$10,000 or both.
Foreigners may face further penalties such as revoking or shortening the validity of permits and passes to remain in Singapore, said ICA.