SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Sunday (Mar 29) it will continue its efforts to ensure that migrant workers do not congregate in public areas, noting that workers have been “highly cooperative” so far.

These ground efforts to disperse gatherings at areas popular with migrant workers such as City Plaza, Lucky Plaza and Little India have gone on for three consecutive Sundays, and the ministry has tripled its manpower from about 40 officers in the first two Sundays to around 130 officers.

“We always try to explain the reason why there is a need to practise safe distancing and encourage them to disperse,” said Mr Aaron Ang, assistant director of MOM’s foreign manpower management division.

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“In the event they are uncooperative, we will take action such as revoking their work pass. But so far … based on past weeks, the workers have been highly cooperative and they are understanding as to why we’re doing this,” he said.

This follows safe-distancing rules implemented by the Government in view of the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore. MOM said on Wednesday that it would step up patrols as well as disperse large outdoor gatherings, possibly revoking the work passes of those who do not cooperate.

MOM increased the number of officers on patrol after new government-mandated measures kicked in on Friday, including a 10-person limit to gatherings outside school and work, said Ms Jeanette Har, director of well-being at MOM’s foreign manpower management division.

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“This week we are going out in bigger numbers simply because the situation requires us to step up in these congregation sites, and to reach more congregation sites,” she said. “Last Sunday, we are doing the same but … this Sunday, the message is different, the message is a stronger one.”

Officers visit areas where migrant workers tend to gather and carry with them posters in different languages, such as Tagalog and Bahasa Indonesia, which they use to educate workers on the rules. 

MOM plans to continue these operations for “as long as is required”, said Ms Har.

The ministry has not had to revoke any work passes because of non-compliance so far, she added. And this step will only be taken after speaking to the workers’ employers.

“In fact, some of them were very appreciative of MOM’s efforts in coming out on a Sunday, talking to them and showing them the collaterals,” she said.

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