3,000 migrant workers in dorms allowed to go out each day from 3 Dec: MOH

·Senior Editor
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Construction worker Vairavan Karuppaiah, 48, from India, enjoys time off at Little India, as part of a pilot programme to allow fully vaccinated migrant workers back to the community after more than a year of movement curbs due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore September 15, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A contrsuction worker enjoys time off at Little India, as part of a pilot programme to allow fully vaccinated migrant workers back to the community on 15 September 2021. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — With 98 per cent of migrant workers residing in dormitories fully vaccinated, some 3,000 of them will soon be allowed to go out each day, for up to eight hours each time, said the multi-ministry task force on COVID-19 (MTF) on Monday (15 November).

From 3 December, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will expand the community visit programme from 3,000 vaccinated workers per week to 3,000 such workers per day, to visit any location within the community, for up to eight hours per visit.

Safeguards such as additional pre-event Antigen Rapid Testing (ART) before they leave their dormitories, remain in place as an added precaution, said the MTF, which noted that the dorms are now more "COVID-resilient".

Migrant workers are taking up booster vaccinations at an "encouraging pace" as they become eligible. COVID-19 infections in the dormitories have stabilised over the last few weeks with an average daily number of 143 migrant workers confirmed positive from polymerase chain reaction tests in the last week. They also have to undergo weekly testing, regardless of vaccination status.

Addressing reporters at a virtual media briefing, MTF co-chair and Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said, "Migrant workers make significant contributions to our economy and our society. And we must continue to care for their well being including their mental well being."

Since April 2020, some 300,000 migrant workers in Singapore have been living under restricted conditions at purpose-built dormitories and factory-converted dormitories, in a bid to control the spread of the coronavirus. Most are still not permitted to leave except to go to work, and cannot mix with the general public, even though cases from the community have far outstripped those in the dorms in recent months.

From end-October, 3,000 workers were allowed to visit Geylang Serai, in addition to Little India, as part of the pilot community visit programme to ease their lockdown restrictions. The programme, which began in September, initially allowed up to 500 workers to visit Little India each week, for up to six hours per visit.

In addition, migrant workers will be allowed to visit recreational centres (RC) daily with an extended duration of eight hours per visit, said the MTF on Monday. This is up from the thrice weekly cap on RC visits that is currently in place.

Unvaccinated workers are required to undergo a pre-visit ART to be allowed entry into RCs.

From mid-December, workers will be allowed to visit any RC of their choice. MOM is working with RC operators to increase the variety of activities at RCs, such as organising screenings of movies and sports games.

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