SINGAPORE — Migrant workers are required to monitor and report their daily health status, as well as download the TraceTogether app, as they gradually begin to resume work when Singapore exits its COVID-19 circuit breaker period on 2 June (Tuesday).
Meanwhile, employers will have to plan staggered pick-up and drop-off time by dedicated transport for their workers, while dormitory operators must show they can implement tight entry and exit controls as well as limit inter-mixing amid its residential blocks.
Those are some of a slew of measures announced by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) ahead of Phase 1 of the post-circuit breaker reopening, and the ministry said in a media release on Saturday (30 May) that all the measures must be properly implemented before workers are allowed to exit the dormitories for work.
Meanwhile, MOM and the Inter-Agency Task Force (ITF) will announce the first batch of cleared blocks or dormitories in the coming week.
Residents in these cleared blocks or dormitories are either workers who have recovered from COVID-19 infection, or have been tested negative. However, they will have to remain within their blocks until the measures set out by MOM for dormitory operators, employers and workers are completed.
Checklists to fulfil before allow workers to exit dorms for work
Dormitory operators are required to complete a checklist to:
Provide MOM with an up-to-date register of all residents housed in the dormitory.
Demonstrate ability to implement tight entry and exit controls.
Show that facility and housing arrangements limit inter-mixing. In particular, the residential blocks must be physically segregated from one another.
Set aside sick bay beds and isolation facilities to facilitate quick containment if there is an infection.
Work with employers to plan staggered pick-up and drop-off times.
This applies to operators of purpose-built dormitories, factory-converted dormitories, construction temporary quarters, temporary living quarters (with seven or more migrant worker residents), quarters on temporary occupation licence sites and government-provided accommodation facilities (e.g. vacant HDB flats, old schools and sports halls).
Employers are required to:
Confirm or update the addresses for each migrant worker in the Online Foreign Worker Address Service (OFWAS).
Show proof of approval by relevant government agencies to resume work.
Provide dormitory operators with the list of workers who had been approved to start work and plan staggered pick-up and drop-off time by the company’s dedicated transport.
Workers are required to install apps to complement the contact tracing and containment efforts. The TraceTogether application will enable the government to know who the worker came into close contact with when he leaves the dormitory for work, while FWMOMCare application will allow workers to update their mobile numbers with MOM, so that quarantine orders can be served quickly.
Practices, arrangements for social activities on rest days
Besides measures to enable migrant workers to return to work safely, new practices and dormitory arrangements are also needed for their social activities on rest days, according to the three phases of reopening implemented by the Singapore government.
The following will apply to cleared blocks/dormitories which have been checked and approved by MOM:
Phase 1: Workers can only leave their dormitories for work, using designated transport provided by their employers. Their employers must ensure that they return to the dormitories immediately after they finish work. On rest days, the workers are to remain in the dormitories. Employers must ensure that all their workers living in the dormitories continue to have access to food and daily necessities, regardless of whether they are eligible to work.
Phase 2: When infection rates in the community and dormitories have been sustained at low levels for a period of time, eligible workers will be able to run errands outside the dormitories on their rest days. To minimise the risk of large group movements, they will do so on staggered rest days and at staggered time slots. A system will be introduced to enable eligible workers to apply for their preferred timeslots. For a start, they may leave the dormitories for up to two hours on their designated rest days to travel to one of eight recreational centres. Dormitories will be required to provide dedicated transport for the workers to and from the recreational centres.
Phase 3: Rest days will continue to be staggered. Eligible workers will be able to leave dormitories for longer durations and to more locations on their designated rest days.
Staggered rest days to regulate flow
The Building and Construction Authority, Economic Development Board and Enterprise Singapore will require project owners in the construction, marine and process sectors to implement a system of staggered rest days for their work-permit holders and S Pass holders.
MOM will also require construction employers not linked to projects (e.g. incinerator plant maintenance contractors) to adopt staggered rest days.
Agencies are engaging the relevant industry associations on their preferred approach and to have effective implementation by the end of Phase One. The government will also assess the need to regulate the flow of visitors to major congregation spots frequented by migrant workers on their rest days, should dormitory residents eventually be able to go to places other than the recreation centres.
The ITF will systematically and progressively clear all remaining dormitories in the coming months, by testing and safeguarding the health of all the residents.
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