COVID-19: MOM extends entry-approval measures to all work pass holders entering Singapore

The Ministry of Manpower building. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — With additional border restrictions implemented in Singapore on Wednesday (18 March) to combat the rising number of imported COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced that it will also implement additional precautionary measures for work pass holders entering or returning to Singapore.

In a media release on Wednesday, it said that from 11.59pm on Friday, all new and existing work pass holders (including their dependants) planning to enter or return to Singapore from any country will have to obtain MOM’s approval before commencing their journey.

This applies to both existing work pass holders currently out of Singapore, and in-principle approval holders who have yet to enter Singapore.

Mandatory 14-day Stay-Home Notice

Upon arrival, all affected work pass holders will also be placed on a mandatory 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN). Employers will be required during application to declare to MOM that they have arranged for suitable premises to house these employees during their SHN period.

Employers should inform their affected employees not to make travel plans to Singapore until approval has been received from MOM. They will also be required to send the MOM approval letter to the employees, who will need to show it to the airline staff upon check-in and at the checkpoint upon arrival in Singapore.

Work pass holders who have been put on a SHN cannot leave their place of residence. They are required to monitor their health closely and seek medical attention immediately if they develop any fever or symptoms of acute respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath.

If support from employers is not forthcoming during the SHN period, work pass holders should report their difficulties to MOM.

Extension of LOASP

MOM has extended the Leave of Absence Support Programme (LOASP) to businesses and self-employed persons affected by the SHN requirements due to COVID-19 since 18 February.

Under the LOASP, eligible employers will be able to apply for $100 daily per affected worker for the required duration of SHN. Affected workers include Singaporeans, permanent residents and work pass holders placed on SHN upon their return to Singapore. Eligible employers will also qualify for levy waiver for affected foreign workers for the SHN period.

Businesses and self-employed Singaporeans and PRs will not be eligible for the LOASP if work was performed remotely by affected persons or workers on SHN, and if they were placed on LOA or SHN upon their return to Singapore after:

  • Travelling to mainland China on or before 31 January; or

  • Travelling to Daegu city or Cheongdo county in South Korea on or before 26 February; or

  • Travelling to South Korea, Northern Italy, or Iran on or before 4 March; or

  • Travelling to Italy, Spain, France or Germany on or before 15 March; or

  • Traveling to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom on or before 16 March; and

  • Travelling to all other countries on or before 15 March 2020.

Employers and employees are strongly advised to check MOM’s website for the latest advisories.

Minister’s clarification

Meanwhile, Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo offered some clarity on the temporary relief measure involving giving employers $50 per worker per night over two weeks to help them secure lodging for their staff who have been affected by Malaysia’s Movement Control Order.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, she wrote that she had received e-mails asking why Singapore is giving foreigners money to stay in Singapore.

“This is not the correct understanding,” she said in the post. “The workers may also be Singaporean, but have no accommodation in Singapore.

“The help goes to the employers, not the worker, because they are responsible for ensuring proper housing.

“The workers are here providing essential services to us and helping to keep our companies going; they are away from family and should have a decent place to stay. I seek Singaporeans‘ understanding that we are actually helping ourselves.”

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