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URA refutes man's claim that warrant needed for authorities to inspect homes for potential Covid-19 breach

SINGAPORE — The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday (Aug 2) refuted the claims of a man who has put up several social media postings in which he expressed his unhappiness with the authorities for entering his home to check for potential Covid-19 breaches without a warrant.

URA refutes man's claim that warrant needed for authorities to inspect homes for potential Covid-19 breach

In the more than seven-minute video on his Instagram page, Mr Nick Mikhail insisted that the authorities were “trespassing” into his home and that they needed a warrant to inspect the residence.

  • Mr Nick Mikhail was unhappy that enforcement officers had entered his home to check for Covid-19 breaches without a warrant
  • The Urban Redevelopment Authority clarified that the officers do not need a warrant to enter, inspect and search premises for potential breaches
  • It also gave an account of what happened at Mr Nick Mikhail's home

 

SINGAPORE — The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday (Aug 2) refuted the claims of a man who has put up several social media postings in which he expressed his unhappiness with the authorities for entering his home to check for potential Covid-19 breaches without a warrant.

"Safe distancing enforcement officers are empowered to enter, inspect and search various premises, including residences, without a warrant, to check whether the Covid-19 regulations are being complied with," said URA in a statement in response to media queries.

URA added that it is aware of the postings put up by Mr Nick Mikhail, who identified himself on Instagram as a “legal loan broker”.

“We have contacted Mr Nick Mikhail to address his concerns and would also like to provide a clarification on the incident,” the statutory board said.

URA said that since late June, government agencies had received repeated complaints from residents of the landed housing estate where Mr Nick Mikhail lived that some residences were “having gatherings with more than the permitted number of visitors”.

Mr Nick Mikhail’s house was also the subject of those complaints.

There were also complaints about the noise generated from the alleged gatherings, URA added.

Since July 22, Singapore has reverted to Phase 2 (heightened alert), where there can only be two distinct visitors per household each day to curb the spread of Covid-19.

In response to the complaints, URA said that six officers — which include three safe distancing enforcement officers from URA and three police officers — conducted joint enforcement checks on a few residences in the landed housing estate on Saturday.

This included the home of Mr Nick Mikhail.

“Upon arrival at Mr Nick Mikhail’s residence, the officers observed that the gate was wide open and that the lights in the house were turned on. They also spotted two cars parked outside the residence, and thus proceeded to ascertain whether there were any visitors in the unit, and if the numbers were within permissible limits,” URA said.

Officers then entered the car porch of the residence and knocked on the door.

URA said that the officers identified themselves and explained the purpose of their visit after a female occupant opened the door.

“She agreed to allow the officers entry and escorted them around the house to facilitate their checks. All three of URA’s safe distancing enforcement officers, one of whom is female, followed her in a single file for the inspection, and were mostly in each other’s line of sight,” said URA.

“Towards the end of the inspection, the female occupant went to retrieve her (identification card) from the next room, with one of the safe distancing enforcement officers following after to take down the details.

“A police officer and the female safe distancing enforcement officer joined them in the next room shortly after.”   

URA said that the inspection lasted less than 10 minutes and the officers left after ascertaining that there were no other people in the house. They then proceeded to check on other homes in the area.

“The safe distancing enforcement officers and police officers were polite towards the female occupant and treated her with respect throughout the inspection,” said URA.

In his social media postings, Mr Nick Mikhail expressed his grievances on the incident which took place when his wife was at home but he was not.

In a more than seven-minute video on his Instagram page, he insisted that the authorities were “trespassing” into his home and that they needed a warrant to inspect the residence.

“First of all, where’s your warrant? If you have a warrant, is that warrant under a court order? Because I know that if I want to conduct a search for someone’s house there must be a court order,” Mr Nick Mikhail said in the video.

He also expressed his displeasure that a male officer had followed his wife into a room.

In a separate 2.5-minute video, Mr Nick Mikhail uploaded footage of closed-circuit television footage of the authorities’ visit.

Following the incident, Mr Nick Mikhail subsequently posted on his Instagram Stories that he is looking for men aged 21 and above “with security background” to “guard my house” and “standby at gate”.

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