SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has rejected about 400 applications a day for work pass holders with travel history to mainland China to return to Singapore since new measures to help contain the coronavirus outbreak kicked in.
These figures for the first week since the measures took effect on Feb 9 were shared by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in a Facebook post on Friday (Feb 14).
About 200 applications were approved daily during this period, she added.
The ministry announced on Feb 8 that all work pass holders with travel history to mainland China within the last 14 days and who are planning to enter Singapore are required to obtain approval from MOM before they commence their journey.
"The two key reasons for rejecting the applications are the need to stagger workers' return to Singapore, and employers not being able to arrange for accommodation for returning workers to comply with leave of absence (LOA)," Mrs Teo noted.
Priority is given to applicants in essential operations such as healthcare, transport and waste management, to ensure services to the public are not compromised, she added.
"I also appeal to our employers for their understanding that this measure is necessary, as we work to contain the virus situation locally. Many employers are already helping by postponing their employees' return," Mrs Teo said.
The ministry is helping employers and workers by helping them link up with hotel or dormitory operators where the LOA can be served.
MOM also encourages employers to treat the LOA as paid leave, Mrs Teo noted.
In her post, Mrs Teo reiterated that more help to tide employers and workers over the coronavirus situation will be announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech on Feb 18.
On Thursday, MOM announced that it has revoked the work passes of two workers and suspended their employers' work pass privileges for breaching entry approval requirements after they recently travelled to China.
The employers were ordered to repatriate the workers within 24 hours and the two workers have been permanently banned from working in Singapore.