Singapore: Now 50000 migrant workers will be allowed in community space over weekends

SINGAPORE, Apr 23:  Up to 50,000 migrant workers, living in dormitories and working in Singapore’s labour-intensive sectors, will be allowed to go about among the community on weekends and public holidays from April 26, an increase from the 30,000 limit now.

On weekdays, the limit will be raised to 25,000, up from the 15,000 now, said the Ministry of Health on Friday.

The migrant workers, largely from India, Bangladesh and China, may spend up to eight hours out each time, whether on weekdays or weekends.

With vaccine-related infection controls such as checks on vaccination status being lifted in most settings from next Tuesday, unvaccinated migrant workers will also be allowed to resume activities within the community.

Unvaccinated migrant workers will also not be required to apply for exit passes or take pre-visit antigen rapid tests before going to designated recreation centres.

Those who are vaccinated were already doing this from the start of this month.

Recreation centres aside, all migrant workers — vaccinated or otherwise — will still need to apply for exit passes and indicate the locations in the community where they will be going.

MOH said that this is “to manage overcrowding at popular locations”.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will monitor the application numbers and continue to conduct regular checks at potential congregation hotspots.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the national COVID-19 task force, said the government is still imposing restrictions on migrant workers because the nature of communal living in dormitories leaves these workers at a greater health risk.

“As we all recognise, there are greater risks in these settings because of the communal living nature of dormitories where they are all eating, living, dining together,” he said in response to a question on why migrant workers will still be restricted from visiting public places when the rules have been drastically relaxed for the rest of Singapore.

“We want to ensure that they are well-protected. And therefore, some control measures are still in place. But clearly, we are moving in the same direction of easing the measures for migrant workers and in the dormitories,” he said.

Migrant worker dormitories that were found to be overcrowded were among the major COVID-19 clusters during the peak of the disease spread here.

The community visit programme was piloted in September last year, where up to 500 vaccinated migrant workers a week were allowed to leave their dormitories to visit designated areas for the first time in one-and-a-half years since the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020.

The number has been gradually increased over time, with MOM in October last year raising it to 3,000 vaccinated migrant workers a week to selected places in the community.

Just last month, that quota was raised further to 15,000 vaccinated migrant workers on weekdays and 30,000 on weekends and public holidays.

As of last Thursday, Singapore has reported 1.17 million COVID-19 cases and 1,322-coronavirus related deaths since the outbreak of the disease. (PTI)