SINGAPORE – From 11.59pm on Saturday (Dec 4), employers of all S Pass and work permit holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process sector will not be allowed to make new applications for foreign workers to enter Singapore via vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs).
This will also apply to employers of other dormitory-bound work pass holders, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said on Saturday.
These workers should enter Singapore via ongoing industry initiatives – such as programmes with upstream testing and isolation in the source country – or the Work Pass Holder General Lane.
The entry of workers under these lanes is done at a pace where they can be safely onboarded before entering high-risk settings like dormitories and worksites, said MOM in a statement. For instance, workers have to show verification of vaccination and go for medical examination under these lanes.
Workers who had obtained approval before Saturday to enter Singapore via VTLs will still be allowed to do so. However, they will need to take an on-arrival Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction test and self-isolate while waiting for the results. Those who test negative will go through a five-day onboarding programme.
More details will be communicated to the employers.
In its statement on Saturday, MOM noted that Malaysian and female work pass holders will still be allowed to enter Singapore via VTLs.
MOM said: “This is because (these) individuals generally do not reside in dormitories.”
MOM’s statement comes after it announced in October that it would resume entry approvals for migrant domestic workers and work permit holders from the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors on the condition that they are fully vaccinated.
This follows its announcement in May that it would stop accepting new applications from higher-risk countries or regions due to Covid-19 with immediate effect.
As a result of manpower shortages in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors, a pilot was launched in July to bring in migrant workers from India to alleviate the situation.
According to the Singapore Contractors Association Limited, the Association of Singapore Marine Industries and the Association of Process Industry, the number of work permit holders in these sectors has declined by more than 15 per cent or 60,000 since end-2019.
The three associations said in July that these restrictions have resulted in project delays and significant labour cost increase, which in turn affect the viability of businesses.
“Besides delays in housing and infrastructure projects, which have implications for home owners and Singaporeans, there are implications for Singapore’s global competitiveness, credibility of our businesses and locals employed in these sectors when projects are not delivered on time or terminated,” they added.