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Probe into safety breaches at New Year's Eve gathering

Probe into safety breaches at New Year's Eve gathering

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 03 Jan 2022
Author: Goh Yan Han & David Sun

Enforcement agencies said they are looking into blatant breaches of safe management rules at a gathering of revellers on New Year's Eve in Clarke Quay.

Enforcement agencies said they are looking into blatant breaches of safe management rules at a gathering of revellers on New Year's Eve in Clarke Quay and described it as a potential super-spreading event.

The incident, caught on the TikTok video platform and shared on social media, is believed to have involved hundreds in a spontaneous countdown party.

In a statement yesterday, the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 urged the public to be responsible.

It said: "The New Year's Eve gathering at Clarke Quay involved some blatant breaches of safe management rules and is a potential super-spreading event.

"We understand the desire and enthusiasm to usher in the new year, especially after two years of social restrictions... but we would like to remind everyone that we are still in the middle of a pandemic crisis, and we still need to exercise civic responsibility."

Videos of the event uploaded on social media platforms showed hundreds of people gathered in front of Riverside Point.

The rowdy crowd could be seen celebrating and counting down to the new year. Many had their masks pulled down.

One man was seen standing on an elevated platform, pouring a liquid from a bottle into the crowd surrounding him.

The staff of shops and restaurants in the area said the eateries had closed by 10.30pm, and many staff had already left the area by 11.30pm.

A manager of a restaurant, who did not want to be identified, said there were safe distancing ambassadors in the area during the eateries' operating hours on New Year's Eve.

A staff member of another restaurant said he saw police patrols and that the crowd became increasingly rowdy.

"We saw police in the area taking down details of some people before midnight."

He added that there was trash all over the outdoor area at Riverside Point in the morning of New Year's Day.

A worker at a convenience store which was open overnight said he could hear cheering and shouting for hours. The 43-year-old, who did not want to be identified, said he also heard sirens.

"We know large crowds of young people had gathered, but we didn't go out to see what was going on. It was only at about 4am that the crowds started to dissipate," he said.

Many questioned why there was a lack of crowd control measures.

One staff member of a restaurant said: "The gathering appeared to be spontaneous, but the authorities should have foreseen this. They didn't seem to have enough people deployed to the area to control the massive crowds."

Jalan Besar GRC MP Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah said the area is not within the town council's common property area, and hence not under its purview.

Dr Wan Rizal, who is also the town council chairman, added: "I am concerned by the lack of safe management measures and hope that the relevant authorities will look into this case."

Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist from the Rophi Clinic, said a super-spreading event would thrive on such situations and called the revellers "selfish" and "irresponsible".

"This is the exact sort of attitude we must discourage during a national crisis," he said.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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