On Monday (17 February), the Ministry of Health (MOH) released a new set of guidelines apropos to the 14-day leave of absence (LOA) for all travelers returning from mainland China (outside of Hubei) who are either Singapore residents or long-term pass holders.
The newly introduced Stay-Home Notice (SHN) takes effect today and will apply to all returnees with recent travel history to China (outside Hubei) within the last 14 days.
By the new notice, all returnees from China would be required to quarantine themselves for a 14-day period. This is a stringent requirement compared to earlier LOA regulations which provided provisions for those to leave their residence for brief moments to shop for supplies.
MOH also urges those who are subjected to undergo SHN to constantly monitor their health as well as to minimize contact with others.
As for workers returning from mainland China on work passes, their employers should first seek approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before they return to Singapore.
Recognizing that there would be those who are in need of additional assistance during the SHN period, MOH would prioritize and provide support in terms of food and daily necessities.
Apart from the above category, Singaporeans, Permanent Residents (PRs) and Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) holders can seek assistance from the People’s Association.
Meanwhile, students are urged to seek assistance from their respective schools and institutions, or the Ministry of Education (MOE).
At the same time, those with work passes have to request assistance from their employers or MOM.
Earlier this month, MOM suspended the work pass privileges of six employers and revoked the work pass for four workers when they were found to have breached the leave of absence (LOA) requirements that were set in place in light of the COVID 19 outbreak.
The new SHN notice warns those who choose to disregard the SHN would be charged under Section 21A of the Infectious Diseases Act.
MOH cautions that foreign workers may have their work passes revoked and be repatriated while employers would have their work pass privileges withdrawn if they are found to ignore these measures. Also, PRs, LTVP and Dependant’s Pass (DP) holders may have their Re-Entry Permit, LTVP or DP revoked or have their validity shortened.
On the other hand, students could face disciplinary actions from their schools or institutions.
MOH reiterates that with the newly introduced SHN, the Government has stopped issuing any more new LOAs to returnees with recent travel history to mainland China (outside Hubei). This is due to consideration that earlier returnees under LOA will be serving out their compulsory 14 day isolation, and henceforth SHN will take effect on the new returnees.
As a general advisory, the MOH sums up that the SHN represents an extra precautionary measure to minimize the risk of additional imported cases of COVID-19.
The notice affirms that those who are subjected to the LOA previously and those who have been issued SHNs are not suspected to have been in close contact with confirmed cases, nor are they unwell or displaying symptoms of the virus. But these individuals are subjected to this inconvenience only as prevention measure for the benefit of the community.
MOH urges the cooperation of landlords to allow their tenants who are placed on SHN to fulfill the 14-day requirements. Landlords are able to find more information in regards to the guidelines on the MOH website in the event a tenant is required to isolate themselves under SHN.