The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday (15 December) that it will “adjust its processing of new work permits and S Pass applications” of workers across all sectors to better support businesses in Singapore.
It was reported by CNA that the MOM is in consultation with the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Trade and Industry regarding the loosening of entry restriction for new migrant workers.
CNA also reported MOM as saying that it now has more room to accommodate the entry of work pass holders to alleviate the manpower shortage, given the country’s “stable COVID-19 situation, strong public health measures and testing capacity”.
“Applicants and employers must adhere to current border measures, which include seeking entry approval from the authorities, undergoing pre-departure tests, and completing their stay-home notice in Singapore,” it reported.
According to CNA, the Ministry is now processing applications from all approved source countries, with workers from certain countries and regions working for specific industry sectors.
Previously, MOM was only processing new work pass applications from countries with lower health risks such as China.
While the Government preparing to loosen work pass applications for new migrant workers, the MOM and MOH announced on Monday (14 Dec) that of the 323,000 total migrant workers, about 47 per cent or 152,794 migrant workers living in dormitories have contracted the COVID-19 virus.
Citing a study of workers in purpose-built dorms who tested positive on 25 July, the ministries noted that the vast majority of migrant workers in dorms who tested positive from the PCR or serology test were asymptomatic or had very mild symptoms.
MOH and MOM noted that only one in five of migrant workers living in such dorms had symptoms, while the rest had very mild or no symptoms, as reported by The Straits Times.
However, as Singapore is set to enter Phase Three of its post-COVID circuit breaker reopening on 28 December, the ministries also announced that migrant workers in some dormitories will gain access to the community once a month under a pilot scheme in the first quarter of next year, as reported by CNA.
“With the transition into Phase 3, we are preparing to return migrant workers to the community in a controlled manner, with strict measures in place,” said the health and manpower ministries.
“We will start a pilot scheme in the first quarter of 2021 to allow migrant workers in some dormitories to access the community once a month, subject to compliance with rostered routine testing (RRT), wearing of contact tracing devices and safe living measures,” they added.