Written Answer by Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng to PQ on Swift Border Policy Response to Surge in Imported COVID-19 Cases
NOTICE PAPER NO. 498 OF 2021 FOR THE SITTING ON 6 JULY 2021
QUESTION NO. 1265 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
MP: Mr Yip Hon Weng
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) how many dependant passes have been issued in the past year; (b) why are dependant pass holders not promptly disallowed entry when there was a surge in imported COVID-19 cases; and (c) whether work permits and dependant passes can be delinked to allow more efficient revisions to border policies in case of a rebound in COVID-19 cases.
- Travellers arriving from the same country have the same risk of incubating COVID-19, as reflected in the country’s COVID-19 situation. The granting of entry approval is therefore calibrated based on the risk levels of countries and regions that the applicant has travelled to.
- Dependant Pass (DP) holders accompany the work pass holder, who is here to work. If the family of a work pass holder is not approved to enter, it is likely that the work pass holder will also choose not to enter. There are also DP holders who have been separated from their family members, due to the border restrictions since 2020. A policy that prevents DP holders from entering Singapore, until all other work pass holders have been able to enter, will likely lead to work pass holders choosing to leave Singapore in order to be reunited with their family.
- The fact remains that our entry approval process, carried out to safeguard public health, has resulted in a sizeable backlog of existing work pass holders and dependants who are outside of Singapore, and who have yet to obtain approval to enter. Businesses understand the need for these measures, and support them, even though it comes at considerable disruption to them. We should therefore not adopt approaches that cause more disruption than necessary.