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 provided by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in a Facebook post on Friday. About 200 applications were approved daily during this period, she added.
The ministry said last Saturday all work pass holders with travel history to mainland China within the last 14 days and who plan to enter Singapore must get the approval of MOM before starting 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 posted.
Priority is given to applicants in essential operations such as healthcare, transport and waste management, she added. "Many employers are already helping by postponing their employees' return."
The ministry is helping employers and workers by linking them up with hotel or dormitory operators where the LOA can be served.
MOM encourages employers to treat the LOA as paid leave, Mrs Teo added. She said 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 this Tuesday.
Last Thursday, MOM said it had 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 here.