SINGAPORE - Over 10,000 Malaysians working in Singapore and affected by Malaysia's travel ban starting Wednesday (March 18) have found accommodation in Singapore within just a few hours on Tuesday (March 17), said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.
Malaysia on Monday (March 16) announced a movement control order that will start on Wednesday and last till March 31.
Among other things, all Malaysians will be barred from travelling abroad and there will also be a ban on all foreign tourists and visitors to the country.
The Government has given assurances that all Malaysian workers who choose to remain in Singapore will have a place to stay, and that it is providing financial help to employers.
About 100,000 Malaysians working here have no living arrangements in Singapore. They include some 1,000 nurses and other healthcare workers who make the daily commute from across the causeway to their workplaces here.
"In the few hours that we've been (working with them), we've been able to match more than 10,000 so far in the few short hours we had, so we're confident that those affected will be able to find suitable accommodation by the end of the night," said Minister Josephine Teo on Tuesday, speaking at a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force on the Covid-19 virus.
"It may take some time because employers and workers have preferences, and different budgets, so we need time to match them," she said.
About 415,000 people, many of them Malaysians working in Singapore, use the land checkpoints between the two countries daily.
Employers have mostly been able to find accommodation options on their own, but those who have had difficulty doing so - numbering around several hundred - have approached the Ministry of Manpower, Mrs Teo added.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday that it is currently working with tripartite partners to help affected companies and help them find suitable accommodations.
There are a number of housing options: workers can also be encouraged to stay with relatives, friends, or colleagues. If this is not feasible, employers can consider hotels and dormitories.
A third option is rental, with the authorities rolling out a plan to help with costs, to the tune of $50 per worker, per night for 14 nights.
"Our objective is to minimise any impact on the delivery of services for our people," MOM said.
"We advise employers to assess their manpower needs carefully and make a considered decision as to whether they need their affected workers to remain in Singapore," said MOM.
"In providing assistance, we will prioritise the needs of firms that provide essential services such as healthcare, security, cleaning, waste management, facilities management, logistics and transport."