COVID-19: Movement in and out of dormitories to stop as all migrant workers to suspend work until May 4

COVID-19: Movement in and out of dormitories to stop as all migrant workers to suspend work until May 4

Cochrane Lodge 01
A resident is seen at Cochrane Lodge dormitory. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: All migrant workers staying at dormitories will have to stop work and stop moving in and out of the dormitories until May 4.

From 11.59pm on Tuesday (Apr 21), daily movement of workers in and out of all dormitories will not be allowed, the Health Ministry said.

"Employers must continue to work with the dormitory operators to ensure the well-being of the workers in the dormitories, including taking care of their food and other daily needs," the ministry said.

READ: Older foreign workers with COVID-19 to get 'special attention', be moved to separate dorm: PM Lee

About 10,000 essential workers have been transferred out of the dormitories and are now housed separately, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on Tuesday at a virtual press conference held by the multi-ministry taskforce set up to tackle COVID-19.

"We have completed the pullout of the essential workers ... and so we will now require all the workers staying in all the dormitories to stop going to work," Mrs Teo said. "This is something we had planned for."

They were potential channels for infections in both directions when they moved in and out of the dormitories, she added.

The new restriction applies to workers from all companies, including those that had obtained exemption to operate, and MTI will notify them to suspend operations.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had earlier announced that the "circuit breaker" period will be extended by four weeks to Jun 1. More services and shops, including hairdressers, confectioneries and standalone beverage outlets, will also have to close as Singapore imposes stricter measures to bring down the number of coronavirus cases.

READ: COVID-19 circuit breaker extended until Jun 1 as Singapore aims to bring down community cases ‘decisively’: PM Lee 

Mrs Teo also said that authorities have made plans for the fasting month for the Muslim workers.

They have co-ordinated with caterers to provide pre-dawn meals and have translated for them guidelines for religious observances that factor in safe distancing measures.

"This is very important for our Muslim friends, and we want to make sure that they're properly taken care of when Ramadan begins," she said.

As of Monday, there were close to 5,000 foreign workers living in more than 30 dormitories who have been infected with COVID-19. Nineteen dormitories have been gazetted isolation areas.

They make up a large proportion of the 9,125 cases reported in Singapore so far.

About 180,000 work permit and S Pass holders in the construction sector, along with their dependents, living in shophouses, private housing and HDB flats have also been placed on mandatory stay-home notices from Apr 20 to May 4.

 "We decided to do this because contract tracing efforts suggest that the transmissions at common construction worksites may have contributed to the increase in the number of affected workers," Mrs Teo said. 

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Source: CNA/hm(gs)

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