James Kon & Rokiah Mahmud
Three local business establishments have been issued with compound fines for violating COVID-19 preventive measures during Ops Merati 5, the latest in a series of inspections carried out by the Health Enforcement Unit under the Ministry of Health (MoH).
This was the first time compound fines were issued following the announcement made on June 19, with the consent of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, to the effect that health officials under the MoH and the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) are also authorised to impose compound fines of up to BND5,000 on anyone found violating the instructions under the Infectious Diseases Act.
The results of Ops Merati 5 were highlighted by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, at the daily press conference yesterday.
“A monitoring and enforcement patrol operation was recently carried out on business premises, especially restaurants, food stalls and food courts, to ensure that the managers and employees were complying with the directives issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to control the spread of COVID-19 infection,” he said.
“Ops Merati was conducted at a business centre in Bandar Seri Begawan, where 21 food premises were inspected by enforcement officers from the Health Enforcement Unit, Ministry of Health.
“As a result of the operation, it was found that three out of the 21 business premises were not complying with the directives. They were issued compound fines by the Health Enforcement Unit.
“The offences found during the operation were the failure to provide body temperature checks prior to entering the premises, the food handlers not wearing face masks, and no social distancing measures in place for the safety of customers who came for dine-ins or take-aways,” he said.
The minister urged business owners and employees to comply with the MoH guidelines which include the scanning of the BruHealth QR code when entering and leaving the premises, conducting temperature checks, observing social distancing, and wearing face masks when handling or serving food.
“It is hoped that food premises will improve their measures in terms of controlling COVID-19,” he said, adding that Ops Merati would be conducted at random throughout the four districts. He also reminded the public not to be too complacent, despite no new cases recorded in Brunei Darussalam for more than 50 days.
“We still need to take extra precautions, as we are yet to be free from the COVID-19 pandemic. Serology tests have shown that there is a limited community spread, so everyone needs to be cautious. Our neighbouring countries are still manifesting COVID-19 cases.”