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40,000 foreign workers can resume renovation, certain types of work without needing BCA approval

40,000 foreign workers can resume renovation, certain types of work without needing BCA approval

Migrant workers living in a construction site collect meals donated by charities for their Hari Raya celebrations amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore on May 24, 2020. (File photo: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: Some foreign construction workers can resume work without needing to apply for approval from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), as part of measures to restart work with the necessary safeguards in place. 

This includes workers involved in home renovations, as well as work such as lift maintenance, facilities management, vector control and maintenance of construction sites.

About 40,000 workers are expected to benefit from this, said BCA in a press release on Wednesday (Aug 12).

The announcement comes as most foreign worker dormitories have been cleared of COVID-19.

Workers approved to return to their jobs must meet several conditions - they have to be clear of the coronavirus, are not on stay-home notice and are staying in dormitories cleared of COVID-19. They must also have installed the TraceTogether app.

Those who meet these conditions will have their AccessCode status on the SGWorkPass platform turned green, meaning they are allowed to resume work.

READ: COVID-19 - Most foreign workers to be able to return to work by end-August, says Lawrence Wong

Companies must still apply for approval to resume work at construction sites and supply work premises, said BCA.

“Main contractors will continue to make the application on behalf of its subcontractors and the subcontractors’ workers for such works," said the authority.

The restriction limiting construction projects to only allow workers from up to 10 accommodation addresses will also be temporarily suspended to facilitate faster construction restart.

“During this time, employers should work towards cohorting their foreign workers together in their accommodation, minimally by employer,” said BCA.

READ: A timeline: Singapore’s biggest COVID-19 cluster at S11 dormitory closes

READ: Foreign worker dormitory linked to more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases among 9 more clusters closed

The authority added that employers and accommodation operators should also continue to work closely to ensure safe living measures and provide dedicated transport for foreign workers.

“Contractors should take into account the larger number of workers on-site and enforce strict zoning of their workforce, and ensure that workers residing in different accommodation or performing different activities do not intermingle on site.

“BCA will closely monitor the situation, including stepping up audits and inspections at worksites,” it said.

Cohorting will also be carried out in 43 dormitories licensed under the Foreign Employee Dormitories Act to minimise intermingling of workers. These dormitories house about 160,000 workers.

Employers and workers will be informed of the cohorting schedule in advance, so that workers can prepare for the shift, including packing their personal belongings, BCA said.

Workers who are living in cleared dormitories with “green” AccessCode status will be allowed to continue working while the exercise is under way, which must be completed by Sep 30.

AccessCode statuses of workers in dormitories that fail to do so by that date will turn “red” and they will no longer be able to work, BCA added.

Foreign workers living in dormitories have made up the majority of COVID-19 cases reported in Singapore.

Authorities said on Tuesday that they are "actively monitoring" foreign worker dormitories to manage the risk of new outbreaks even after the completion of testing for all foreign workers living in them.

READ: COVID-19: Authorities monitoring migrant worker dorms to manage risk of outbreaks after new cases reported

Several safe management measures have been laid out to minimise the risk of infection, including temperature checks, monitoring of wastewater at higher risk dormitories and regular routine testing.

“With more daily movements in and out of the dormitories, it is even more important for everyone to remain vigilant to guard against new infections," the Ministry of Manpower, BCA, the Economic Development Board and the Health Promotion Board said in a joint news release.

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Source: CNA/ga(rw)

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