In 2 Months, No Fines Have Been Issued to Anyone Not Returning Trays in Hawker Centres


Before 1 June 2021, if you cleared your table and returned your tray after having a meal at a hawker centre, you’d be a considerate person.

After 1 June 2021, however, if you did the same thing, you’d be a law-abiding citizen. 

Yes, for those who have been eating on their sofas since the circuit breaker in April 2020, diners are now legally obliged to clear their tables and return their trays after eating at hawker centres.

The new rules kicked in on 1 June this year, but enforcement action only began on 1 Sep. Given how many residents here have breached COVID-19 regulations, you would have expected quite a few to leave their tables full of half-eaten bowls of Chendol. 

But, no, quite the opposite.

In 2 Months, No Fines Have Been Issued to Anyone Not Returning Trays in Hawker Centres

Since officers began enforcing the rules on 1 Sep, no fines have been issued for table littering.

Just one diner was given a written warning after he or she refused to listen to enforcement officers when asked to return dirty crockery.

On the whole, diners have been cooperative with the new rules, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor said in Parliament yesterday (3 Nov).

While some have returned their trays and crockery after being advised to do so, others have taken the initiative without having to be asked.

And those who have had to be reminded to clear their tables said they simply forgot to do so, meaning they weren’t unwilling.

What Are the Penalties?

First-time offenders will be issued a written warning, while second-time offenders could face a $300 composition fine.

Subsequent offenders could be hauled to court.

The good news is that even if you forget to clear your table, all you have to do is heed an enforcement officer’s advice to do so. If you do this, no enforcement action will be taken against you.

Table Littering Laws at Coffee Shops & Food Courts to be Enforced From 1 Jan

In case you don’t know, these table littering laws were recently expanded to coffee shops and food courts.

There will be a two-month advisory period – from 1 Nov to 31 Dec – before enforcement action kicks in on 1 Jan 2022.

The enforcement approach at these venues will be similar to that at hawker centres.


Visual cues such as posters and banners will progressively be installed at these premises to remind diners to clear their tables, the National Environmental Agency (NEA) said.

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