Migrant workers in temporary quarters can only leave for leisure activities with permission, says MOM

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Wednesday (12 Aug) stated that migrant workers staying in some dormitories that have been declared cleared of COVID-19 will be allowed to leave their dormitories to visit recreation centres on their rest days, but the workers will need to apply for exit passes.

This came after Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Gerald Giam revealed in a Facebook post yesterday that about 40 migrant workers will be housed in temporary living quarters at a construction site in 50 Bedok Reservoir Crescent.

The Workers’ Party (WP) member said that he was informed of the project to build a special education school at Bedok, adding that the 40 migrant workers will be required to stay on-site until the project is completed in the third quarter next year.

Many netizens were appalled by the post, with some even described it as “inhumane” to “imprison” the workers.

In response to that, the MOM implied that the migrant workers in temporary living quarters at Bedok can leave for essential errands but they need to seek permission.

“Members of the media have asked MOM whether workers moving into temporary living quarters at a construction site in Bedok can leave the dorm for leisure purposes. Like workers in other cleared dorms, they can already leave to attend to essential errands.

“We will move towards this goal in a measured way to ensure that the migrant works and broader community are kept safe and healthy,” said the Ministry on its Facebook page yesterday.

Meanwhile, in a statement on its website, the MOM stated that it will pilot “small-scale trials” to allow migrant workers in selected cleared dormitories to leave for leisure and personal errands starting from this month, adding that the workers will need to apply for an exit pass via SGWorkPass app which will provide a specific exit timeslot.

Residents’ exits will also be spread out across each day to reduce crowding outside the dormitories on rest days.

“We also bear in mind the lessons learnt from other countries’ reopenings that led to new waves of Covid-19 infection. To this end, MOM has engaged employers, NGOs, dormitory operators and Recreation Centre operators to coordinate this important undertaking,” it noted.

Residents who wish to apply exit passes are required to meet all the following criteria:

  • Have recovered from COVID-19 or obtained a negative swab test result within 14 days prior to the exit date.
  • Not on quarantine order or stay-home notice.
  • Stay in a dormitory that has been cleared of COVID-19.
  • Have installed and registered the TraceTogether app.
  • Choose an exit pass timeslot with available vacancies.

“The trials will allow us to refine the Exit Pass arrangements so as to progressively ramp up the number of participating dormitories over the next two months. Details of the eventual Exit Pass arrangements will be announced in due course,” said the Ministry.

The MOM did not specify the selected dormitories involved in the trial exit system, but it aims to have all dormitory residents able to apply for exit passes to visit recreation centres in October.

“The limits on exit duration and destinations will be reviewed after October 2020, taking into account Covid-19 transmission trends then,” it added.

The Ministry went on to say that workers residing in dormitories that have been declared cleared of COVID-19 and are not serving a quarantine order or stay-home notice can leave their dormitories for essential errands without applying for an exit pass.

But their employers or dormitory operators will have to submit the workers’ personal particulars and details of the essential errands to the MOM, as reported by Channels News Asia.

Also, the essential errands must be work pass-related errands, such as submitting and endorsing documents and capturing biometrics. Medical appointments, dental appointments, banking services, and court hearings are also valid purposes.

As for any other urgent personal matters, the MOM said that the workers must obtain permission from the Ministry to leave their dormitories.

“BCA [Building and Construction Authority], EDB [Economic Development Board] and ESG [Enterprise Singapore], with the support of industry associations, have also announced measures to stagger the rest days of their workers so as to help reduce crowding.

“We also welcome community and NGO efforts to expand programmes and initiatives in the dormitories so that there are more options for the residents during their rest day,” it noted.

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