All foreign workers living in dorms barred from leaving premises
Those not in essential services won't be allowed to leave premises or go to work
About 10,000 foreign workers in essential services have been pulled out of dormitories while others living in them were yesterday barred from leaving the premises until May 4.
They cannot go out even to work, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said at a virtual press conference yesterday.
This applies to workers of all companies, even those given permission earlier to operate in the current "circuit breaker" period from April 7 to May 4.
Mrs Teo said the new restriction "was something we had planned for, and now we're going to implement it".
She said the Ministry of Trade and Industry would notify the affected companies that have to suspend their operations.
"We know that there are going to be some adjustments to be made by the companies, but we seek the cooperation of both the employers and workers on this new condition.
"It is a necessary measure to minimise the risk of transmissions."
The measure will apply to all dormitories, including larger purpose-built ones, factory-converted dormitories and on-site temporary quarters.
Employers must continue to work with dormitory operators to ensure the well-being of workers. This includes taking care of their food and other daily needs, a Ministry of Health statement said.
Workers in essential services have moved out to alternative accommodation, such as vacant Housing Board flats, floating hotels and military camps.
Safe distancing measures have been implemented at all purpose-built dormitories to prevent intermingling of workers, and medical posts have been set up so that they can report sick without having to leave the premises.
Earlier yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a live address to the nation that the circuit breaker period will be extended by another month to June 1, with more workplaces to be closed to further reduce the number of workers keeping essential services going.
With the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan starting on Friday, Mrs Teo said the inter-agency task force, set up earlier this month to handle the outbreak in dormitories, has coordinated with caterers and dormitory operators to provide pre-dawn and break fast meals.
As of Monday, 28 of the 43 purpose-built dormitories in Singapore have known clusters. Also, there are at least 14 clusters in smaller factory-converted dormitories.
Mrs Teo said workers have been understanding of the measures implemented, and she thanked them for their cooperation.
"If we are able to follow through with this... coupled with the measures taken at the dormitories, we have a real chance of breaking these channels of transmission."