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Singapore threatens stiff fines and jail time if you're caught standing too close

Singapore has introduced strict new rules to help curb the spread of the coronavirus — and citizens who don't take them seriously could face harsh punishments.

As of today, Singaporeans are required to maintain a distance of at least one meter (a little over 3 feet) from the people around them. People who defy the order could be fined up to $10,000 Singapore dollars ($7,000 U.S.) or be arrested and face up to six months in jail. In some cases, both penalties may be enforced.

This social distancing enforcement policy is one of a string of new laws aimed at curtailing the ongoing health crisis. 

"We need all Singaporeans to play their part in the fight against COVID-19. Everyone should observe the safe distancing measures announced, and fully comply with the quarantine order and SHN issued by authorities," the Ministry of Health said in the announcement.

Officials go on to warn that if people do not obey, they will use more drastic measures later. 

After recently banning short-term visitors from entering or transiting through Singapore, the country's Multi-Ministry Taskforce has also decided to limit gatherings to 10 people, ban large events, and close all bars and entertainment venues. The government will use mobile apps, house visits and phone surveillance to monitor the activities of citizens and catch potential violators. 

For now, public venues such as malls and museums in Singapore are allowed to remain open. People can still go to work and schools have reopened.

Singapore reported its first coronavirus case in January and since then it has had over 700 confirmed cases and 2 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins.

Despite the relatively low mortality rate so far, the government says it will not be complacent. The new measures have been ordered to stay in place until April 30, could be extended if the situation does not improve.

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