A local woman produced in the Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday to face a charge under Section 62A(2) of the Infectious Diseases Act, Chapter 204, of failing to comply with the direction issued by the Ministy of Health (MoH) to not offer dine-in services, pleaded guilty before the Chief Magistrate yesterday.
This is the first prosecution brought under the new amendments to the Infectious Diseases Act.
Ting Siew Kiing, 62, offered dine-in services to members of the public at a flat in Mabohai on March 21, 2020, two days after the MoH direction was announced.
The defendant pleaded guilty to the charge, agreeing to the statement of facts that showed, despite knowing about the MoH directions, the defendant still provided dine-in services to customers in the living room of her house, which can accommodate up to 10 customers.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Aminudin Zaki bin Dato Abdul Rahman submitted that Brunei Darussalam is currently in the early stages of the global pandemic, and has seen the numbers of infected people rise from six to over 100 in the space of two weeks.
He highlighted that measures have been taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 outbreak, including directions issued by leading ministries – such as ordering dining establishments not to provide dine-in services, and even closing mosques and cancelling Friday prayers to try and minimise the rate of infections in the country.
To support the effective implementation of these national measures, the authorities must ensure that those who choose to ignore the gravity of the situation in Brunei Darussalam are punished to deter other possible offenders.
The Deputy Public Prosecutor submitted that in this particular case, the defendant knew about the MoH direction on March 19, but chose to carry on business as usual, disregarding the health of the people of Brunei Darussalam.