SINGAPORE: JAIL TIME FOR BREAKING SOCIAL DISTANCING LAWS

DANIEL ZAND WRITES –   New efforts to contain COVID-19 are being enacted because on Wednesday, March 25, three new cases of the Coronavirus occurred. This is the largest increase ever experienced in one day within Singapore. And the feel uptick continues.

Singapore has created new social distancing punishments. Coming into effect Friday, March 27, 2020, they may be shocking to some Western cultures: “Those who  do not keep at least one meter (3.2 feet) apart or who meet in groups of more than  10 people outside of work or school, could face a fine of up to 10,000 Singapore dollars ($7,000) and/or  up to six months’ imprisonment.” Is Singapore’s government is doing should be up to the people of their country to decide for themselves. Is Singapore’s government being too heavy-handed? Or are its leaders taking necessary steps to ensure people’s safety?

Singapore residents and short-term visitors, too, are required to complete a 14-day stay-home notice. As of this writing, if one fails to comply with a  “Stay-Home Notice” that person will experience the same penalties as one who breaks the social distancing law. Others must especially observe stay at home notices if they are experiencing respiratory difficulties. 

Social distancing measures are seen as one of the most effective ways to slow down a pandemic. It is through people’s actions and accountability that we can reduce widespread COVID-19. The question is, are more countries going to impose social distancing laws? Is this the step that will bring COVID-19 to an end? 

Actually, the overriding question is: Are the punishments levied by strict authoritarian regimes like Singapore justified in reducing citizens’ personal freedoms in the effort to contain the COVID pandemic? The answer may depend, in large part, on the success-or not-of such a system.  

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