COVID-19: MOM not extending housing support to firms with Malaysian workers beyond 31 March

People wearing face masks seen outside the Woodlands Checkpoint on 17 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Wednesday (25 March) that it will not be extending the temporary housing support beyond end-March, following news of Malaysia extending its Movement Control Order (MCO).

Malaysia announced on Wednesday that it will be extending its MCO by two weeks to 14 April, from the original date of 31 March.

The MCO involves a lockdown on the border between Singapore and Malaysia, with Malaysians unable to travel to Singapore and Singaporeans unable to enter Malaysia.

The announcement of the nationwide lockdown on 16 March by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin left Malaysian workers scrambling to enter Singapore before the two checkpoints between both countries were shut down on 18 March.

The MOM announced then that it would provide temporary housing support to help employers defray the additional costs of housing affected workers. Companies affected by the travel ban were given an allowance of $50 per worker per night for 14 nights to cover the extra costs incurred.

On the move not to extend the housing support beyond 31 March, an MOM spokesperson said, “For their own long-term sustainability and business continuity reasons, employers will need to decide on how best to house their affected workers in Singapore, and the sharing of additional costs with their workers.”

The ministry advised employers to look for more sustainable housing options in Singapore for their Malaysian workers.

Over the past week, the MOM, Ministry of National Development, the Housing Development Board, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Singapore Tourism Board helped to facilitate accommodation for affected workers, said the MOM.

The government has helped around 2,000 firms with their requests for accommodation for over 10,000 affected workers while other firms have made their own arrangements to accommodate affected workers.

The MOM has also followed up with employers to ensure that affected workers are housed in temporary housing that is safe and appropriate. It will now cooperate with employers to facilitate the transfer of affected workers to more sustainable housing options.

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