Coronavirus: MOM outlines new measures for workers resuming work after June 1, including staggered rest days in Phase 2 of reopening

Dormitory operators should work with employers to implement measures for workers to live in dormitories safely. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Foreign workers living in dormitories, as well as their employers and dormitory operators, will have to comply with a slew of measures before the workers are allowed to resume work.

Dorm operators should also work with employers to implement measures for workers to live in dorms safely, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Saturday (May 30).

These include tracking movement in and out of dorms, setting up physical barriers to prevent mixing of workers between blocks and levels, and monitoring residents' health and setting aside on-site isolation facilities.

Dorm operators must make these rules clear to residents, and may "impose a small financial penalty for non-compliance", said the ministry.

As for arrangements for workers' social activities in the months ahead, the MOM said that workers will only be allowed to leave the dorms for work in Phase 1 of the post-circuit breaker period. They must use designated transport provided by their employers.

Employers must ensure that the workers return to the dorms immediately after work.

The workers will not be allowed to leave the dorms on their rest days, and employers must ensure that their workers living in dorms continue to have access to food and daily necessities even if they are not eligible to resume work.

In Phase 2, workers will be allowed to run errands outside their dorms, but they can only do so during staggered rest days and time slots. Rest days do not need to be staggered in Phase 1.

The workers will be allowed to leave the dorms for up to two hours and travel to one of eight designated recreational centres. Dorm operators will have to provide dedicated transport for this.

In Phase 3, rest days will continue to be staggered, but workers will be allowed to leave the dorms for longer periods and go to more locations.

The MOM said the first batch of dorms and dorm blocks that have been cleared will be announced next week. This refers to blocks or whole dorms where the residents are all either recovered Covid-19 patients or have tested negative for the virus.

But the residents will still have to remain in the dorms until additional steps are taken, and the ministry said it expects dorm operators and employers to take about a week to implement these steps.

Under the new measures, workers will be required to report their health status, location and mobile numbers on an MOM app, and will also have to download and activate the TraceTogether app.

The guidelines will be translated into the native languages of the workers and disseminated to them, the ministry said. It added that employers must ensure that their workers understand their responsibilities.

Employers will be required to confirm or update the addresses for each of their workers in the MOM's Online Foreign Worker Address Service and must also obtain and show proof of an approval to resume work issued by relevant government agencies.

Operators of all dorms, including large purpose-built dorms, smaller factory-converted dorms and temporary living quarters, will be required to provide the ministry with an updated register of all their residents.

They will need to demonstrate that they can implement tight entry and exit controls and show that their housing arrangements limit intermixing, such as by having physically segregated residential blocks.

Operators will also need to set aside sick bay beds and isolation facilities to quickly contain infections if they are detected.

Dorm operators and employers will also have to work together to plan staggered pick-up and drop-off times for the workers.

It is important for dormitory operators, employers and workers to fully comply with the new requirements, said the ministry. It stressed that each worker's address must be independently updated by the worker himself, his dormitory operator and his employer.

"If the worker's address as reported by the three parties does not tally, it has to be rectified before the worker can resume work," the MOM said.

"This is to ensure future contact tracing efforts are not hampered and the health and safety of other dormitory residents compromised."

The MOM also said it will work with the relevant sector agencies to ensure that all measures laid out in the advisories are properly implemented before workers are allowed to exit the dormitory for work.

"Depending on actual implementation of the measures, MOM may grant approval for specific cleared blocks or entire cleared dormitories."

The ministry added that this calibrated approach to clearing and reopening the dorms is necessary to keep workers and the community safe.

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