Ripples from India's Covid-19 surge: The struggle to cope with fewer foreign workers in Singapore

Sectors such as construction and landscape maintenance - which employ many Indian and Bangladeshi workers - have been hard hit. ST PHOTOS: DESMOND FOO, NG SOR LUAN, KUA CHEE SIONG, JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - The frightening surge in Covid-19 cases in India has had repercussions around the world, and Singapore has not been spared, with delays and disruptions across the economy.

Much of the impact stems from a ruling that has barred all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have travelled to India within the last 14 days from entering or transiting through Singapore since April 24.

The same entry ban for all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have been in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka kicked in at 11.59pm on Saturday (May 1).

How will it impact various sectors in Singapore?

Entry ban to further squeeze manpower in S'pore's construction sector

Sectors such as construction and landscape maintenance - which employ many Indian and Bangladeshi workers - have been hard hit even as they have faced an already diminished workforce since the onset of the pandemic last year.

Home buyers are being warned of longer waiting times for their property and higher costs as construction companies turn to countries such as China and Myanmar to source alternative manpower, which may be more costly given the increased demand.


Builders: Hoping for more govt help amid worker crunch

Construction companies are holding out for more government intervention to tide them over as they take another hit because of the Covid-19 entry ban on long-term pass holders from India and Bangladesh.

The beleaguered sector, which is largely reliant on Indian and Bangladeshi workers, has been struggling with a manpower shortage since the onset of the pandemic last year, as foreign workers returned to their home countries in droves.


Maids: Families face longer wait for helpers from India, Sri Lanka

Finding a domestic worker from overseas is already a tricky task in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, with the ban on travellers who have recently been in India or Sri Lanka, families in Singapore will be unable to hire help from these countries.


F&B: Hard to find chefs offering authentic cuisine

The food and beverage sector has seen minimal impact in the wake of new travel curbs but shops in Little India are facing staff shortages, with more foreign workers wanting to return to their families.

Junior Kuppanna Restaurant had 11 employees from India but seven are now stuck there as they had been visiting their families before the pandemic.


Landscapers: Tapping technology, redesigning jobs to attract locals

Mr Ken Ong, who used to work in the tourism industry, joined the landscaping sector about a year ago. The landscape coordinator says he finds the job rewarding even though he now earns about 20 to 30 per cent less than before.

When the circuit breaker ended in June last year, Mr John Tan, owner of Esmond Landscape and Horticultural, had to scramble to get work done.

With little maintenance work performed from April, Mr Tan was saddled with new projects he had to complete on top of works that had been postponed because of the restrictions.

But three of his workers had left Singapore to return home to India between March and July last year. He needed new workers to join his 19-member team, which included 13 Singaporeans and permanent residents.


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