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Preparing for Safe Working, Safe Living and Safe Rest Days

  1. The Inter-Agency Task Force (ITF) had earlier announced on 15 May 2020 that in the recovery phase of its operations, it aims to clear dormitories or dormitory blocks housing up to 60,000 migrant workers in the ensuing weeks. The ITF will systematically and progressively clear all remaining dormitories in the coming months, by testing and safeguarding the good health of all the residents.

  2. MOM and the ITF are working with all stakeholders – dormitory operators, employers, and migrant workers – to make preparations so that workers can be allowed to resume work once their dormitory is cleared of COVID-19 infections.

    PREPARING FOR SAFE WORKING AND SAFE LIVING

    Step 1: Cleared Blocks / Dormitories 
     
  3. The ITF will announce the first batch of Cleared Blocks / Dormitories next week. A Cleared Dormitory is one where every block within has been cleared. The residents in the Cleared Blocks / Dormitories are either workers who had COVID-19 infection and have since recovered, or have been tested negative.

  4. Residents in a Cleared Block / Dormitory will have to remain within their block until the following additional steps are completed.

    Step 2: Actions by Dormitory Operator

  5. Dormitory operators are required to complete a checklist to:

    o Provide MOM with an up-to-date register of all residents housed in the dormitory.
    o Demonstrate ability to implement tight entry and exit controls.
    o Show that facility and housing arrangements limit inter-mixing. In particular, the residential blocks must be physically segregated from one another. 
    o Set aside sick bay beds and isolation facilities to facilitate quick containment if there is an infection.
    o Work with employers to plan staggered pick-up and drop-off times. 
     
    Dormitory operators must fully implement all the measures in the Safe Living checklist, as detailed in the Advisory for Dormitory Operators. This applies to Purpose-built Dormitories, Factory-converted Dormitories, Construction Temporary Quarters, Temporary Living Quarters (with seven or more migrant worker residents), Quarters on Temporary Occupation Licence Sites and Government-provided accommodation facilities (e.g. vacant HDB flats, old schools and sports halls.

    Step 3: Actions by Employer

  6. Employers are required to:

    o Confirm or update the addresses for each migrant worker in the Online Foreign Worker Address Service (OFWAS).
    o Show proof of approval by relevant government agencies to resume work1.  
    o Provide dormitory operators with the list of workers who had been approved to start work and plan staggered pick-up and drop-off time by the company’s dedicated transport.

    Step 4: Actions by Migrant Workers

  7. Workers are required to:

    o Monitor their health and report their daily health status using the MOM FWMOMCare mobile application.
    o Update their location and mobile numbers using the FWMOMCare mobile application.
    o Download and activate the latest version of the TraceTogether mobile application.

    MOM will also issue an Advisory for Employers on the additional responsibilities of employers and workers for Safe Living. We will be translating the additional responsibilities for workers into their native languages for dissemination.

  8. It is important for dormitory operators, employers and workers to fully comply with the requirements in Steps 2 to 4. In particular, each worker’s address must be independently updated by the dormitory operator, employer and worker. If the worker’s address as reported by the three parties does not tally, it has to be rectified before the worker can resume work. This is to ensure future contact tracing efforts are not hampered and the health and safety of other dormitory residents compromised.

  9. Workers will also be required to install mobile applications to complement the contact tracing and containment efforts. The TraceTogether application will enable the Government to know who the worker came into close contact with when he leaves the dormitory for work. The FWMOMCare application will allow workers to update their mobile numbers with MOM, so that Quarantine Orders can be served quickly.

  10. Dormitory operators should work with employers to implement the Safe Living measures to minimise the risk of transmission. They are also responsible to ensure their residents comply with Safe Living measures in the dormitory. They may do so by setting clear house rules and the corresponding consequences for non-compliance. For example, dormitory operators may impose a small financial penalty for non-compliance. All cases of non-compliance must be reported to MOM.  Workers who repeatedly breach house rules pose a risk to others and may have their work passes revoked.

  11. MOM and relevant sector agencies will ensure that all measures laid out in the advisories are properly implemented before workers are allowed to exit the dormitory for work. Depending on actual implementation of the measures, MOM may grant approval for specific cleared blocks or entire cleared dormitories. A worker may only leave the dormitory for work if his employers has the necessary approvals from relevant Government agencies to resume business operations. This calibrated approach to clearing and re-opening our dormitories is necessary to keep our workers and community safe.

  12. Given the extensive preparations required, we expect dormitory operators, employers and workers to need about a week to implement the required measures before they can resume work. If the requirements are met sooner, workers will be allowed to resume work earlier. However, the focus should be to ensure that the preparations are done properly.

    SAFE REST DAYS

  13. Besides measures to enable workers to return to work safely, new practices and dormitory arrangements are also needed for their social activities on rest days. The following will apply to Cleared Blocks / Dormitories which have been checked and approved by MOM:  

    i) Phase One – "Safe Opening”: Workers can only leave their dormitories for work, using designated transport provided by their employers. Their employers must ensure that they return to the dormitories immediately after they finish work. On rest days, the workers will be required to remain in the dormitories. Employers must ensure that all their workers living in the dormitories continue to have access to food and daily necessities, regardless of whether they are eligible to work.  

    ii) Phase Two – “Safe Transition”: When infection rates in the community and dormitories have been sustained at low levels for a period of time, eligible workers will be able to run errands outside the dormitories on their rest days. To minimise the risk of large group movements, they will do so on staggered rest days and at staggered timeslots. A system will be introduced to enable eligible workers to apply for their preferred timeslots. For a start, they may leave the dormitories for up to two hours on their designated rest days to travel to one of eight Recreational Centres. Dormitories will be required to provide dedicated transport, either on their own or in partnership with one another, to shuttle the workers to and from the Recreational Centres. These arrangements will be regularly reviewed.

    iii) Phase Three – “Safe Nation”: Rest days will continue to be staggered. Eligible workers will be able to leave dormitories for longer durations and to more locations on their designated rest days.

  14. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore will require project owners in the construction, marine and process sectors to implement a system of staggered rest days for their Work Permit Holders and S Pass holders. MOM will also require construction employers not linked to projects (e.g. incinerator plant maintenance contractors) to adopt staggered rest days. Agencies are engaging the relevant industry associations on their preferred approach and to have effective implementation by the end of Phase One. The Government will also assess the need to regulate the flow of visitors to major congregation spots frequented by migrant workers on their rest days, should dormitory residents eventually be able to go to places other than the Recreational Centres.

FOOTNOTE

  1. Besides essential businesses that are already operating, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has given businesses in certain industries a class exemption to resume business. Resumption of activities in the construction industry will be subject to arrangements established by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). Similarly, the resumption of activities in the marine and offshore, and process construction and maintenance activities will be subject to arrangements established by the Economic Development Board (EDB).