Coronavirus: Singapore

Singapore not barring entry to all work pass holders: MOM

Singapore is not closing its doors to all work pass holders and their dependants, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday.

It is reducing arrivals from higher-risk areas, meaning that some work pass holders who had earlier obtained entry approvals will have to be rescheduled to arrive in later weeks.

The ministry issued this clarification after the appearance of social media posts inaccurately alleging that no work pass holders would be allowed entry from Tuesday.

"Work pass holders needed for key strategic and infrastructural works will still be allowed to enter Singapore," MOM said in a Facebook post.

They include most foreign domestic workers and workers in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors who had earlier obtained approval. Other work pass holders who had obtained approval to enter prior to July 5 will not be allowed to come in.

On Friday, MOM announced that it would also no longer be accepting new entry applications for work pass holders from higher-risk areas, given the resurgence of Covid-19 in several countries and the emergence of new virus variants.

However, the changes do not apply to people who are seeking or have already been given entry approval from lower-risk countries or regions, or under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement, Reciprocal Green Lane and other approved travel lanes.

All countries and regions are considered to be at higher risk, except Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

The ministry has started to inform affected work pass holders and their employers of the changes.

The new restrictions have hit companies in a wide range of sectors.

Mr Lien Whai Cheng, managing director of precision engineering company Coway Engineering and Marketing, said he has three employees unable to enter Singapore owing to the new restrictions.

  • Recent measures

  • Here are some recent steps taken to deal with the impact of Covid-19 among foreign workers: April 26

    • The Building and Construction Authority announces measures to help the construction sector cope with the manpower crunch, such as the temporary easing of a skills certification rule for workers from China.

    • The public sector will grant construction contracts an additional 49-day extension for delays caused by the pandemic, meaning contractors get a total of five to six months more to complete projects.

    • The Government will also foot up to 0.1 per cent of the awarded contract sum for every month of delay under cost-sharing measures, to free up cash flow for contractors. This applies to eligible public sector projects with a contract sum of up to $100 million.

    May 7

    • The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announces Singapore has stopped accepting new entry applications for work pass holders from countries or regions with a higher risk of Covid-19.

    • MOM says it will reschedule entry for those who had earlier obtained approval, with the exception of those from the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors, and migrant domestic workers.

    May 8

    • MOM announces higher foreign worker levy rebates, from $90 to $250 a month, between this month and December, for firms in the construction, marine and process sectors.

    Jolene Ang

He has not been able to find new workers to replace them. "Currently, I can only work with my sub-contractors to help (the situation), besides getting the other workers to work overtime."

Another firm, Strides Pharma Global, has three work pass holders in key supervisory and managerial positions who are in India currently. Its chief executive and managing director, Mr Mohan Kumar, said he hopes the pharmaceutical sector can be added to the list of sectors exempted from the new restrictions.

Pastry shop Tong Heng's general manager Ana Fong said the restrictions would affect operations as there would be issues with hiring workers from Malaysia. "In general, locals from Singapore are harder to hire as we understand that they have more opportunities and competition to hire is tough."

She said the shop has enough manpower at the moment. "But peak periods such as the Mid-Autumn Festival may be a stressful period if we do not manage to hire quality workers in the meantime."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 09, 2021, with the headline 'Singapore not barring entry to all work pass holders: MOM'. Subscribe