Geylang Bahru duck rice hawker fined S$300 after taking off mask for 10 sec to taste sauce

The hawker's wife was fined before for wearing her mask too low.

Belmont Lay | December 07, 2021, 06:14 PM

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A duck rice hawker in Singapore has been issued a S$300 fine after safe distancing ambassadors caught him with his mask off to taste the marinade he made, Shin Min Daily News reported.

The hawker, Wang Rongfu, who operates a stall at Geylang Bahru Market and Food Centre, said he was accosted by safe distancing ambassadors on Nov. 14.

What happened

Before his supposed offence, he said he was behind the counter chopping duck meat while his wife was attending to customers.

There were about 20 people in the queue at his stall, the hawker said.

As he saw the sauce served with his dishes running low, he reached over to the new batch and removed his mask to give the marinade a taste before serving it.

But after that happened, safe distancing ambassadors showed up and asked for his personal particulars.

The pair of safe distancing ambassadors were then joined by three others.

The hawker told Shin Min: "From behind, three safety distance ambassadors came and said that I did not wear a mask and violated the regulations. If I didn't cooperate, they would call the police to the scene."

Complied with order

As there were customers queuing and worried that his business might be suspended, Wang said he could only follow the instructions at the time and hoped to explain himself later.

The day after the incident, Wang contacted the authorities to explain if he could be let off the hook, but was unsuccessful.

He said: "The authorities said the safe distancing ambassador saw that we were not wearing masks, so it was just a routine matter."

Took off mask for 10 seconds

Wang said he took off his mask for less than 10 seconds.

He added that he thought he would just be given a warning, and did not expect to receive a S$300 fine.

He would have to pay it before Dec. 16, or face other penalties.

Wang also said: "I have been in business for 30 years and have always paid attention to hygiene, even wearing a headgear. We understand that preventive measures must be taken during the pandemic, but this is really unreasonable. Is my stall space also a public place?"

Not first brush with safe distancing ambassadors

However, Shin Min reported that it is understood that the safe distancing ambassadors had told the couple to wear their masks properly once before on the day of the incident.

This was after Wang's wife's mask slipped under her nose, and the couple's particulars were noted down once.

This chain of events were corroborated by Wang, but not fully.

He said that a week before receiving the fine, a safe distancing ambassador did remind him and his wife to wear masks when preparing food.

But on the day of the incident, the safe distancing ambassador proceeded to catch the couple and a fine resulted without a verbal warning.

Needs to make sauce 5 times a day

Wang said he makes sauces at his stall five times a day owing to his good business.

He is worried, nonetheless, as moving forward, he might be labelled a repeat offender if he gets caught again.

He said: "Fines are a small matter. I am worried that we will become repeat offenders. When that happens, it won't be just a fine. It may also be a suspension. I hope to avoid this."


But it appears this was not the only brush with safe distancing ambassadors.

Wang said his wife was previously observed to have violated regulations after she was caught wearing her mask too low.

Speaking to Shin Min, Wang said he wonders if there was overenforcement by safe distancing ambassadors who are overzealous in policing in the hawker centre and market.

Customers are also puzzled why his wife got into trouble, he claimed.

Other vendor had run-in with safe distancing ambassador

Another vendor at the adjacent market in Geylang Bahru said he had his particulars taken down by safe distancing ambassadors too.

This was after he needed to wash up after eating and moving goods, and on another occasion, he was sitting sitting at his stall eating and chatting with friends.

He said he told the safe distancing ambassador to observe him for a few more minutes and that was when the safe distancing ambassador became more polite.

Top photos via Shin Min Daily News & Google Maps

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