SINGAPORE: The Government will make available a range of short-term housing options for some workers who commute frequently between Singapore and Malaysia, in light of Malaysia’s travel restrictions.
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday (Mar 16) night that there would be a ban on Malaysians travelling overseas and on visitors entering the country under a restricted movement order imposed from Mar 18 to Mar 31. This is to prevent further spread of COVID-19, he added.
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday that companies can encourage workers affected by the order to stay with their relatives, friends or colleagues who might be willing to accommodate them for a short period.
“This may be the option most amenable to some workers,” the ministry added.
For workers who cannot stay with relatives, friends or colleagues, the Government has worked with private and public sectors on short-term housing options.
This includes hotels, dormitories and other accommodation, such as rooms and whole property in HDB flats and private residential properties.
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“We advise employers to assess their manpower needs carefully and make a considered decision as to whether they need their affected workers to remain in Singapore,” MOM said.
“In providing assistance, we will prioritise the needs of firms that provide essential services such as healthcare, security, cleaning, waste management, facilities management, logistics and transport.”
The ministry said the Government is looking into providing financial support for companies that need to urgently accommodate their affected workers. More details will be released shortly.
“The Government will also be working with the hotel/dormitory providers on providing lower cost rentals,” MOM added.
“Our objective is to minimise any impact on the delivery of services for our people.”
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Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Sunday businesses that employ Malaysian workers who commute between Singapore and Malaysia daily may have to activate their business continuity plans, he said.
“If they need assistance, they should contact our economic agencies who stand ready to assist,” Mr Chan said.
While Singapore had on Sunday widened travel restrictions to ASEAN countries, it made an exception for Singaporeans and Malaysians using sea and land crossings with Malaysia.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia surged past 500 on Monday, with many linked to a religious event held in Kuala Lumpur.
Only shops selling essentials, including food stores and pharmacists, would be allowed to stay open, Mr Muhyiddin said in a televised address.
Public gatherings and movements throughout Malaysia including religious events, sports meets, social and cultural activities will be prohibited, and schools will be closed, said Mr Muhyiddin.
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Mr Chan said Singapore will continue to stay in touch with its neighbours as the situation evolves.
“Our priority is to ensure that our people and our businesses are able to continue with their lives and their livelihoods,” he added.
“I am aware that many of these new restrictions and announcements may be quite overwhelming for many people. I ask for your continued trust and support as we work hard with all stakeholders to ensure that we get through these short-term challenges together.”