Movement restrictions for migrant workers in dorms to be eased further on Oct 30: MOM

MOM said it will expand the community visit programme and further ease restrictions for visits to recreation centres. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Restrictions on the movement of vaccinated migrant workers staying in dorms will be eased further starting Saturday (Oct 30).

That is when up to 3,000 vaccinated migrant workers will be able to visit Little India and Geylang Serai every week for up to eight hours at a time, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said in a statement on Friday (Oct 22).

It added that only workers residing in dormitory blocks without Covid-19 clusters will be eligible to sign up for these community visits.

These dormitories must also have implemented proper safety measures and have workers with high vaccination rates.

Migrant workers participating in the community visits will be required to take an ART on the day of the visit, MOM added.

The expansion in numbers comes after a pilot community visit programme in September, when initially up to 500 fully vaccinated migrant workers living in dorms were allowed to visit stipulated locations in the community.

By the end of the pilot, about 700 workers from 30 dorms had visited Little India, MOM said.

The visits lasted up to six hours each week and the dorms that the workers came from were required to have no Covid-19 cases in the previous two weeks.

The workers were also required to administer antigen rapid tests or ART before and after the visits.

MOM said the expansion of the community visit initiative is in response to its poll of the migrant workers, most of whom said they were satisfied with the itineraries and arrangements for the visits.

Feedback they provided indicated that they would like visits to be longer, with more options on the places they can go, it added.

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The first batch of migrant workers from Westlite Mandai dormitory visited Little India on Wednesday (Sept 15), as part of a pilot programme that allows them back into the community. This comes after more than 16 months of movement curbs.

MOM on Friday said it will also ease restrictions for visits to recreation centres, which all vaccinated migrant workers will be able to visit up to three times a week.

Recreation centres have facilities for migrant workers to buy necessities, get a haircut and remit money home.

The centres also have food and beverage outlets, mini-marts and communal facilities. Workers can visit only the centre assigned to their dorms.

There are eight such recreation centres across the island in places like Kranji, Tuas, Woodlands and Kaki Bukit - built over the years to serve dorm residents.

To visit recreation centres, vaccinated workers will no longer be required to undergo a pre-visit ART.

If a migrant worker is unvaccinated, he will be able to visit recreation centres up to three times a week if he obtains an ART negative result during the rostered routine testing regime or pre-visit ART.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng on Thursday (Oct 21) said more than 97 per cent of migrant workers in dormitories have been fully vaccinated.

Mr Jasim Uddin, 33, who is from Bangladesh and has been working in the Singapore construction sector for 14 years, said although he is fully vaccinated, he is not in a rush to visit Little India anytime soon.

He said: "You need to register to go for the visits, which can be a troublesome process. I will go when we don't need to register anymore."

Mr Miah Md Bachchu, 35, a construction safety supervisor who has been working in Singapore for 11 years and is fully vaccinated, said he is keen to get out of the dorm for some leisure time.

"I've only gone out twice since March last year - once to Little India and the second time last month, to the Bangladesh embassy," he said.

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