SINGAPORE: Foreign domestic workers are urged to stay at home, even on their days off, in the first phase of Singapore's reopening, as "circuit breaker" measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 are progressively lifted from Jun 2, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday (May 21).
Singapore will exit the circuit breaker as planned on Jun 1, with measures to be gradually lifted in three phases from the next day. Phase 1 will see students return to schools on a rotational basis, the reopening of certain businesses and services, and limited family visits.
The first phase is expected to last for at least a month.
Foreign domestic workers "should stay at home during Phase One, including on their rest days," MOM said in an advisory sent to employers.
They will be able to go out to run essential errands and buy meals, but "should return home immediately thereafter". This was "in line with the rest of the community", MOM said.
In the advisory, MOM "encouraged" employers to give their domestic workers a weekly rest day at home and that on this rest day, workers "should not be asked to work". MOM added that if the worker agrees to forgo her rest day, compensation must be given.
If workers need to go out on their rest days, they should seek their employers' consent to do so on a weekday, when public spaces are less crowded, MOM said.
MOM also told employers that foreign domestic workers must limit their time outside, wear face masks and comply with all safe distancing measures. They should also inform employers of their whereabouts, and download and activate the TraceTogether app to facilitate contact tracing.
"There should be no meeting up with friends or gathering in public spaces to minimise contact between different households," the ministry said.
"MOM will continue to conduct inspections on the ground. (Foreign domestic workers) who do not cooperate risk being fined and their work passes revoked."
READ: Transition to a 'new normal' after circuit breaker: How will measures be lifted beyond Phase 1?
Employers are encouraged to introduce their domestic helpers to e-remittance services and meaningful online activities, such as online lessons organised by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST).
Employers are also asked to educate their workers on the latest guidelines and requirements, and provide guidance on maintaining good personal hygiene, including frequent washing of hands with soap.
"As we all adapt to the new normal, it is important to maintain open communication with your (foreign domestic worker) and provide them with the necessary support," MOM said.
Singapore authorities first issued an advisory for foreign domestic workers to adhere to safe distancing practices on their rest days on Mar 21, in line with stricter measures announced by the Health Ministry.
Singapore entered the circuit breaker on Apr 7. As of noon on Thursday, Singapore has seen 29,364 COVID-19 cases. Of these, 11,207 have been discharged.