About 80 disputes over mask-wearing on public transport since April, 40 people fined

SINGAPORE – There have been around 80 cases of disputes involving commuters who did not mask up on public transport since April, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Thursday (Aug 27).

About 40 people have been fined for not doing so, the agency added.

The other cases still have their outcomes pending, or were resolved without police involvement.

Mask-wearing in public was made compulsory in Singapore on April 14, and failing to do so may result in a fine of $300 for the first offence, and repeat offenders will face higher fines or prosecution in court.

Disputes between commuters and public transport workers over mask rules have been in the spotlight after videos of arguments were uploaded and shared on social media.

LTA noted that while most commuters comply after being reminded to wear their masks correctly, some refused to cooperate and resorted to verbal and physical harassment.

“We do not condone such behaviour towards our public transport workers, and offenders will be dealt with according to the law,” said its spokesman.

On Sunday (Aug 23), a commuter on a Circle Line train was caught on video hurling vulgarities at at least three SMRT staff who had urged him to wear his mask properly.

“The commuter verbally abused the staff and continued the abusive behaviour while travelling in the network,” said Ms Margaret Teo, the rail operator’s chief communications officer.

The 51-year-old man was subsequently arrested by the police at Khatib MRT station.

The police said the man reeked of alcohol, and was arrested for causing annoyance to the public when drunk under Section 14(2)(b) of the Liquor Control Act and using abusive language against a public servant.

In another incident that was posted on Facebook last Wednesday, Mr Nimal De Silva posted a 15-minute-long live video of himself verbally abusing a bus driver who would not let him board a public bus wearing a neck gaiter instead of a face mask.

According to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) website, “a mask that closely and completely covers the nose and mouth (i.e. without leaving a gap between the mask and the face) must be worn when persons go out of their homes”.

When contacted, a ministry spokesman said: “MOH does not recommend the use of neck gaiters and bandannas as masks.”

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