SINGAPORE: About 1,800 migrant domestic workers had their entry into Singapore postponed from May, but entries for a third of them have been rescheduled, said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad on Monday (Jul 26) in Parliament.
All such workers who have had their entries postponed should be able to enter Singapore by the end of the year, barring any further tightening of entry approvals, Mr Zaqy said.
He was replying to a parliamentary question from Member of Parliament (MP) Ng Ling Ling (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) on the issue and whether the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will allow the entry of these workers for families with urgent caregiving needs.
Mr Zaqy said that from May, the Government tightened the entry approvals given to migrant domestic workers (MDWs) as well as other travellers from countries with higher incidence of COVID-19 due to a resurgence of infections locally and globally.
“Among the travellers and MDWs coming from these countries, we found a significant number who were COVID-positive when they arrived,” he said.
“They posed a transmission risk to our frontline workers at our checkpoints and SHN (stay-home notice) facilities, and had to be cared for under our healthcare system. Hence, the Government has had to restrict the numbers entering from high incidence countries.”
Since May, MOM could only approve a small number of migrant domestic workers for entry every week. MOM had also postponed the entry of about 1,800 MDWs who had previously received approval to enter Singapore.
“With a much smaller number allowed to enter, MOM prioritised the entry of MDWs for families with very challenging caregiving needs,” said Mr Zaqy, who is also Senior Minister of State for Defence.
ALL POSTPONED ENTRIES COULD BE RESCHEDULED BY YEAR-END
Of those who had their dates postponed earlier, MOM has rescheduled one-third so far to enter Singapore.
“Barring any further tightening of entry approvals by the Government, we hope to progressively schedule the entry of the remaining two-thirds by the end of the year,” he said.
“But there are also many more employers who are still waiting to submit their entry applications. We hope that the COVID-19 situation in the region improves so that we can approve more to enter.”
In the meantime, the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore (AEAS) has begun a pilot to implement additional safe management measures in the migrant domestic workers' home countries before they enter Singapore.
Mr Zaqy said that MOM is monitoring the effectiveness. If the pilot proves successful in lowering the number of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 at our borders, Singapore can progressively allow more domestic helpers to enter under this arrangement.
“Our priority is to ensure that the risk of COVID-19 importation is well managed so as to protect our public health and safety of the families where the MDWs are deployed to,” he said.
“Not every employer will be able to get entry approval for their MDW before the end of the year.”
He added that MOM will continue to prioritise those with urgent caregiving needs but some families may have to consider other arrangements until the regional pandemic situation improves.