SINGAPORE - To accelerate the entry of workers needed for ongoing projects and alleviate the labour crunch in the construction, marine shipyard and process (CMP) sectors, the authorities will streamline the entry requirements for new work permit holders in these industries from March 13.
According to a joint statement on Sunday (March 6) by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Economic Development Board (EDB) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM), an industry-led process to bring new CMP workers into Singapore will be shortened considerably and eventually become the main route for such workers.
This industry-led process began as a pilot scheme in July last year to bring migrant workers into Singapore safely and securely after MOM had stopped accepting new entry applications for workers from higher-risk places amid a global wave of Covid-19 Delta variant infections at the time.
But border restrictions have changed since then.
Since November last year, all workers from the CMP sectors have had to be fully vaccinated before they enter Singapore.
And today, new work permit holders in these sectors are able to enter Singapore using two lanes - the industry-led route, which involves pre-arrival testing and isolation, and a general lane based on prevailing border restrictions, which were eased last month.
Under the industry-led route, which has helped to bring in more than 15,000 CMP workers so far, new work permit holders must undergo a seven-day regime involving Covid-19 testing at specific facilities in their home countries, and are subject to prevailing health protocols upon arrival in Singapore.
This includes a stint at an MOM onboarding facility here.
In comparison, under the general lane now, workers take a pre-departure test and must stay at an MOM centre for up to nine days after arriving here.
From March 13, new CMP work permit holders coming into Singapore via the industry-led route need to undergo only a two-day pre-departure programme in their home country, instead of the current seven days.
They will still have to complete a three-day stay-home notice and onboarding period at an MOM centre here when they arrive, but this still means a shorter process than coming in through the general lane.
This new pre-departure preparatory programme process will be available for workers from Bangladesh, India and Myanmar.
Until April 30, new workers who enter Singapore via this method will be prioritised for entry, but they can still choose to enter via the general lane as well.
From May 1, however, all new CMP work permit holders will need to go through the shorter pre-departure process unless it is not available in the worker's home country.
BCA, EDB and MOM said the new approach will retain some of the existing health protocols of the industry-led process, which has been successful in reducing imported cases, even amid coronavirus surges in the source countries of these workers.
The authorities said the duration of the new pre-departure programme may be adjusted, depending on the global Covid-19 situation.
For example, it could be lengthened if new Covid-19 variants of concern emerge that require tighter border measures.
Applications for workers to enter via the pre-departure programme method will be open on March 13 through industry partners.
Meanwhile, existing CMP workers holding issued work permits will continue to enter Singapore via the general lane, but their entry approvals will be prioritised, the authorities added.