Lawrence Wong

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has announced that Singaporean citizens who flout the 14 days self-quarantine law will face harsher punishments – a 6 months jail and S$10,000 fine – compared to foreigners on permanent residence and work passes.

Unlike Singaporeans, foreigner offenders will not be charged, jailed or fined. Instead, they get a ticket straight back to their home country:

“Foreigners who flout the rules during the mandatory 14-day stay at home on returning from China will face penalties such as having their long-term passes revoked. Singaporeans, on the other hand, would be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Act. First-time offenders can be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to six months, or both.”

Minister Lawrence Wong did not explain why foreigners will not be penalised. So far, 7 China nationals – two on permanent residence and five on work permits – were caught for breaching the 14 days Leave of Absence (LOA) orders. No Singaporean has breached their self-quarantine orders yet.

The ruling party minister who co-chairs the ministerial coronavirus task force was previously under public criticisms when he declared the Wuhan virus to be less severe than SARS.

It is unknown how Minister Lawrence Wong arrived to his declaration when the Wuhan virus has claimed more lives and infected. There are now 1,873 dead and 73,332 infected with the Wuhan virus worldwide, as compared to 774 deaths and 8,098 infected with SARS in 2003.

Minister Lawrence Wong also announced a new 14 days Stay-Home notice to replace the LOA regime. The stricter quarantine order prohibits the suspect case to even step out of their quarantine location, to buy food or make necessary purchases outside. The minister did not explain what assistance the government will provide for those on Stay-Home orders.