COVID-19: Singapore stops accepting new entry applications for work pass holders from higher-risk countries

COVID-19: Singapore stops accepting new entry applications for work pass holders from higher-risk countries

Workers needed for key strategic projects and infrastructural works will be allowed to enter, says the Manpower Ministry.

Foreign construction workers in Singapore
Workers at a construction site in Singapore on Sep 28, 2020. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Singapore will not accept new entry applications for work pass holders from higher-risk countries and regions with immediate effect, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in several places around the world. 

The new restriction excludes workers needed for key strategic projects and infrastructural works, who will be allowed to enter, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday (May 7).

Higher-risk countries and regions refer to all places except Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. 

Work pass holders from higher-risk places who earlier received approval to enter Singapore before Jul 5 will no longer be allowed to do so - except for migrant domestic workers and those in the construction, marine shipyard and process industry.

“We will inform employers on when to re-apply for entry when the situation has stabilised and will prioritise them for entry approval then,” said MOM.

READ: Companies seek alternatives as workers from India, Bangladesh dwindle

ARRIVALS RESCHEDULED FOR SOME APPROVED WORKERS

For migrant domestic workers, those who have already obtained approval will be allowed to enter Singapore, with the exception of some with planned arrivals before Jun 7.

They will be rescheduled to arrive in subsequent weeks, MOM said.

Similarly, workers in the construction, marine shipyard and process industry who have obtained approval will be allowed to enter. However, a small group with planned arrivals in June will be rescheduled to arrive in subsequent weeks.

“In this period of heightened alert, we are making changes to the entry of work pass holders who have earlier obtained approvals to arrive from higher-risk countries and regions from Tuesday, May 11 onwards,” MOM said.

"In view of the need to reschedule the entry of work pass holders who had already obtained approval to enter, we regret that we will not be accepting new entry applications from higher-risk countries/regions with immediate effect, except for workers needed for key strategic projects and infrastructural works who we will continue to allow entry."

READ: Singapore to bar visitors from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

READ: COVID-19: Singapore to stop entry for all long-term pass holders, short-term visitors with recent travel history to India

These changes will not affect work pass holders already given approval or are seeking the green light to enter Singapore from lower-risk countries and regions under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) and the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), said MOM.

The ministry also said it will be reaching out to affected work pass holders and their employers about the changes to their entry dates.

“We seek the understanding and cooperation of work pass holders and their employers for these changes,” MOM said.

“They are necessary to enable workers to enter in a safe and calibrated manner, and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 importation.”

READ: COVID-19: Singapore to stop entry for all long-term pass holders, short-term visitors with recent travel history to India

Singapore has been tightening COVID-19 border measures in recent days.

On Apr 22, it announced that all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to India will not be allowed entry from Apr 24 due to the worsening COVID-19 situation there.

On May 2, this was extended to include those with recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Due to the restrictions, companies that have traditionally relied on migrant workers from India and Bangladesh are faced with a shortage of workers and are looking for alternative options.

Companies said project delays and disruptions are expected for the time being, while the Building and Construction Authority has promised support measures such as granting more flexibility for firms bringing in workers from China.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect MOM’s correction of its initial press release: Only the PCA and RGL travel lanes are not affected; other approved travel lanes are affected.

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Source: CNA/ga(gs)

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