Some Work Pass Holders Barred From Entry Temporarily, Can Reapply When Covid-19 Situation Improves

In recent days, Singapore has experienced an unfortunate surge in community cases, which has led us to tighten measures.

As we’ve effectively gone back to Phase 2 domestically, the focus has now turned to imported cases.

To that end, the Ministry of Manpower (MOH) has stopped accepting new entry applications from workers coming from higher-risk countries with immediate effect.

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They’re also barring entry to some work pass holders from high-risk countries temporarily – even if they’ve previously obtained approval to enter.

These workers will be allowed to reapply for entry when the situation has stabilised.

Tightening the flow for dependents too

In a press release on Friday (7 May) night, MOM said the new measures were due to the “resurgence of Covid-19 cases in several countries”, as well as new virus variants.

Thus, it’s temporarily tightening the flow of work pass holders entering Singapore from higher-risk countries.

These “higher-risk countries” have been defined by MOM as basically all countries/regions in the world, except for:

  1. Australia
  2. Brunei
  3. Mainland China
  4. New Zealand
  5. Taiwan
  6. Hong Kong
  7. Macao

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That also includes dependants of these work pass holders, they said.

Barred temporarily from 11 May

From next Tuesday (11 May), some work pass holders from higher-risk countries will be barred from entering Singapore.

This is even though they’ve been approved to enter – in fact, these workers would have obtained approval to enter before 5 Jul.

However, this will be a temporary thing, and their entry will be rescheduled to another date.

When the Covid-19 situation in Singapore has stabilised, MOM will notify employers when they can reapply for their workers to enter.

When that happens, these workers will be given priority for entry approval.

No new entry applications accepted

Since MOM will be processing the rescheduling of entry for work pass holders already approved to enter, they’ll probably be very busy.

Thus, they will also not accept any new entry applications with immediate effect.

However, exceptions will be given for “workers needed for key strategic projects and infrastructural works”.

These workers will still be allowed to enter.

Exceptions for 2 groups of workers

MOM will also be making an exception to these rules for workers from 2 sectors:

Work-pass holders from the construction, marine shipyard and process (CMP) sector, who will be allowed to enter if they’ve obtained approval earlier.

However, a “small group” of CMP workers who planned to arrive in June will have their entries rescheduled.

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Another group to be exempted are migrant domestic workers, as long as they’ve obtained prior approval.

Again, some of these domestic workers will have their entry rescheduled – those who planned to come before 7 Jun.

Arrivals via travel lanes not affected

Work-pass holders who’re entering via travel lanes like the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) and Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) needn’t fear.

They’re also not affected by the tightened measures, MOM said.

Neither are those coming in from lower-risk countries, i.e. Australia, Brunei, Mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

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MOM said they’ll be reaching out to affected work-pass holders and their employers.

They seek understanding and cooperation, as these changes are necessary mitigate the risk of importation of Covid-19 into Singapore.

Stopping imported cases but creating manpower issues

Singaporeans who’ve been reeling at the number of imported cases coming in daily might take some comfort at the tightened measures.

However, those who depend on foreign labour for their businesses may lament that they’ll be facing manpower issues.

The measures might help mitigate the Covid-19 situation here, but ultimately as Singapore needs foreign workers to build the country, they’ll affect us negatively too.

Hopefully, the Covid-19 situation will improve in Singapore and more countries in the world soon, so our manpower situation will get back to normal.

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Featured image adapted from Wikimedia Commons.