SINGAPORE: A total of 24 work pass holders have had their permits revoked and permanently barred from working in Singapore for breaking COVID-19 circuit breaker rules, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Monday (Apr 13).
The work pass holders were caught eating, drinking and gathering in groups in the vicinity of Tuas View Square, a factory-converted dormitory. Such facilities are industrial or warehouse developments which have been partially converted to dormitories.
MOM said it has stepped up inspections of factory-converted dormitories to ensure that safe distancing measures are kept to.
These include ensuring that workers stay in their rooms as much as possible, and leave the premises only if they need to purchase essential goods and services.
Between Apr 11 and 13, authorities inspected more than 600 factory-converted dormitories located at Sungei Kadut, Tuas and other places across Singapore.
“Inspections revealed that the vast majority of the FCDs (factory-converted dormitories) had instituted safe distancing measures and health checks for their residents. The dormitory residents also had no well-being or salary issues,” said MOM.
It added that “minor lapses” were found in 57 of such dormitories, with the most common issue being a lack of sick bays and isolation areas.
“The cleanliness levels of some of these FCDs were also found to be unacceptable. The operators have been instructed to rectify the issues immediately,” said the ministry. “MOM will complete the inspections of the remaining 600 FCDs in the next two days.”
“SERIOUS RISK” OF OUTBREAK
MOM had earlier issued an advisory to employers who house their foreign workers outside purpose-built dormitories, to remind them to keep to safe distancing measures amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Workers living in purpose-built dormitories such as S11 Dormitory @ Punggol and Westlite Toh Guan dormitory already have inter-agency teams in place, as part of the Government’s strategy to deal with the spike in COVID-19 cases in those dormitories.
READ: ‘Dedicated strategy’ to break COVID-19 spread in dormitories, including housing healthy workers in army camps
MOM’s latest advisory on Monday referred to factory-converted dormitories, construction temporary quarters and temporary occupation licence quarters.
“In recent days, more cases of COVID-19 have involved foreign work pass holders in these places of residence,” said MOM. “There is serious risk of widespread outbreak in your facility.”
Construction temporary quarters include structures used for housing employees within a construction site, according to MOM’s website, while temporary occupation licence quarters include pre-fabricated temporary buildings that are used to house foreign employees working in the construction sector.
SAFE DISTANCING MEASURES
MOM advised employers that there should be no inter-mixing of workers between blocks and, if possible, between floors.
“Each group of residents residing within the same floor is permitted to have at least one hour of open space time each day.” said the advisory.
“They will be allowed to leave the dormitory during this time to buy essentials or to run important errands, such as remitting money. The workers are to minimise time spent outside and must return to the dormitory/quarters within the time period given to them.”
It is mandatory for workers to register their time in and out each time they leave the dormitory.
Employers must also make sure that their work pass holders have their meals catered to minimise the need to leave their dormitories.
READ: COVID-19: 2 more dormitories declared as isolation areas
READ: Battling fear and boredom, migrant workers grapple with isolation in dormitories
“We need you to engage your workers and help them understand that these are important and necessary adjustments for their health and safety,” MOM said.
Workers who do not cooperate will be fined. They will also risk having their work passes revoked and permanently banned from working in Singapore.