More migrant workers can take part in community visits, including unvaccinated workers

The last time the quota of migrant workers allowed in the community was raised was in March. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - More migrant workers will be allowed to leave their dormitories to visit public places from next Tuesday (April 26), with up to 50,000 allowed in the community on weekends and public holidays and up to 25,000 on weekdays.

Unvaccinated workers will also be allowed to participate in these eight-hour visits, with the lifting in most settings of safe management measures that differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

However, workers still need to apply for exit passes and indicate where they would like to go before they leave their dorms, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Friday.

This is to manage overcrowding at popular locations, MOH added.

Asked why migrant workers still need to apply for the exit permits when pandemic restrictions have largely been eased for the rest of the population, and whether the authorities had a timeline for lifting restrictions on dormitories after more than two years of movement controls, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said communal living in worker dormitories presents a greater risk.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, added that some of the restrictions are still in place to ensure that migrant workers are well protected.

"But clearly we are moving in the same direction of easing the measures for migrant workers and in the dormitories, and we will allow, eventually, all of them to go out to the community," he said. "There should be no doubt about that."

The last time the quota of migrant workers allowed in the community was raised was in March.

Currently, up to 15,000 workers are allowed out on weekdays, and up to 30,000 are allowed out on weekends and public holidays.

As at July last year, there were an estimated 275,000 workers living in dormitories here.

MOH said the Ministry of Manpower will monitor the number of applications for exit passes and continue to conduct regular checks at potential hotspots where workers gather.

Unvaccinated migrant workers will also no longer be required to apply for an exit pass or take a Covid-19 test before going to one of the eight migrant worker recreation centres here. As at Feb 20, 99.4 per cent of migrant workers living in dormitories were fully vaccinated.

The volunteer-run Covid-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC) said it is glad that more migrant workers are allowed to go out to visit places of worship and meet their family and friends. But it is frustrating to see the rest of Singapore return to normalcy while migrant workers still have to adhere to these restrictions, the group said.

It added: “We hope that there will be clearer timelines soon on when the public health measures can be consistent across our communities, especially for vaccinated workers."

Read next - S'pore eases most Covid-19 rules from April 26: What you need to know

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.