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Unvaccinated people to be barred from returning to workplaces, even with negative test result

Unvaccinated people to be barred from returning to workplaces, even with negative test result

File photo of a COVID-19 test kit. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: Unvaccinated workers will no longer be allowed to return to the workplace from Jan 15, even if they have a negative pre-event testing (PET) result, the Ministry of Health announced on Sunday (Dec 26).

The ministry had said in October that unvaccinated people would not be allowed to enter the workplace from January 2022, unless they had tested negative for COVID-19.

“Following the review and discussion with tripartite partners, we have decided to remove the PET concession for unvaccinated persons to return to the workplace from Jan 15, 2022,” said MOH in a press release issued at 11pm.

In an update on Wednesday, MOM clarified that the measures will apply to both employees and those who are self-employed.

Partially vaccinated workers – those who have taken at least one dose of vaccine but are not yet fully vaccinated – will be granted a grace period until Jan 31 to complete the vaccination regime, the ministry said.

During the grace period, they can enter their workplace with a negative PET result.

"This change will help to protect unvaccinated individuals and to create safer workplaces for everyone," MOH said.

VACCINATION REQUIRED FOR NEW WORK PASSES, PR APPLICATION

Vaccination also will be a condition for the approval or grant of new long-term passes, work passes, as well as permanent residence from Feb 1 next year. 

Vaccination will also be required when renewing existing work passes.

At the point of application, MOH said employers of work pass holders will be required to make a declaration that their employees and their dependants are fully vaccinated upon arrival in Singapore.

Pass holders will have to verify their certificates by uploading them to the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority’s (ICA) Vaccination Check Portal system. Those without digitally verifiable certificates will have to present their certificates to airlines, ferry operators or at the checkpoint before boarding.

Those unable to produce the necessary documentation will be denied boarding or entry into Singapore unless prior exemptions have been granted. 

After arriving in Singapore, these workers must update their vaccination records in the National Immunisation Registry (NIR). They will be given 30 days upon arrival to undergo and show a positive serology test result taken at a Public Health Preparedness Clinic.

Should they test negative, they will be required to complete the full vaccination regimen in Singapore or face revocation of their passes, said MOH. 

Those who are under 12 years old are exempt from this vaccination condition, while those aged 12 to below 18 years old have to make a declaration to complete the full COVID-19 vaccination regimen after arriving in Singapore.

Pass holders who are medically ineligible for vaccination must submit a doctor's memo at the point of application and undergo a medical review upon arriving in the country.

For new permanent residence (PR), long-term visit pass (LTVP) and student’s pass (STP) applications, the vaccination status of applicants will be verified during the pass issuance process. Their vaccination records will have to be updated in the NIR.

Those who are not registered in the NIR will have to complete the full vaccination regimen in Singapore to fulfil the vaccination condition before they can be granted PR or long-term passes.

Children under the age of 12, as well as those medically ineligible for vaccination, will be exempt from this requirement.

SECOND ROUND OF DISTRIBUTION OF TEST KITS

To support the increased number of employees returning to their workplace from 2022, a second round of voluntary distribution of antigen rapid test (ART) kits will be conducted for workplaces.

From Jan 1, the unvaccinated would have to pay for their own PET tests before they are barred from workplaces from Jan 15. Partially vaccinated individuals would also have to pay for their own PET tests until such time they are fully vaccinated.

“Firms with employees that work onsite and are not already subject to mandatory routine rostered testing may apply for eight ART kits per onsite vaccinated employee for weekly testing over a two-month period, if they require the funding support,” MOH said.

Applications will open from Jan 3 to Jan 31, the ministry said, adding that more details will be announced soon.

All firms are encouraged to implement regular testing for employees, to help detect COVID-19 infections early, it said.

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Source: CNA/ec(cy)

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