Advisory on safe distancing measures in Singapore

Singapore is tightening border restrictions as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to worsen around the world, with important notices about safe distancing measures from authorities.
The following measures are taken to prevent the rapid spread of coronavirus in Singapore.

Stay-Home Notice (SHN)

1. Health care for people on Stay-Home Notice

Persons under SHN must stay at their place of residence at all times for 14 days after entering Singapore. They must not leave their place of residence, even if it is to buy food and essentials. If necessary, they can choose home delivery services or enlist the help of others for their daily necessities.

They should minimize contact with others, avoid letting guests arrive at their place of residence, monitor their health closely and observe good personal hygiene. Avoid contact with other people (outside their household) within 2 meters beyond the purpose of receiving delivery of food or other necessities. They should maintain a record of the people they have close contact with during this time.

Avoid interacting with vulnerable people, for example, seniors aged 60 or older or people with underlying health conditions, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. Consider alternative accommodation if these interactions cannot be avoided.

If sharing a house with others, stay in your room as much as possible and use a dedicated toilet if possible. Do not use common utilities in your estate/building, including swimming pool, gym or playground. If applicable, notify your employer or school that you have been issued an SHN as soon as possible.

The Singapore Government agencies, such as MOE, ECDA, MOM, and ICA, may contact you through a variety of platforms including phone calls, WhatsApp or SMS. When contacted, you must respond within an hour.

2. All short-term visitors will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore

From March 23, all short-term visitors (from anywhere in the world) will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will only allow the entry/return of work pass holders, including their dependents, to those who provide essential services, such as in healthcare and transportation.

Short-term visitors with recent travel history to mainland China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Spain will still not be allowed entry or transit in Singapore, as previously instructed. Short-term visitors who are allowed to enter will have to provide proof of where they will serve the stay-home notice, for example, a hotel reservation covering the entire time or a place of residence that they or their family members own.

The latest directive was issued just days after the task force said stay-home notices would be issued to all tourists traveling to Singapore on a recent trip to Southeast Asia countries, Japan, Switzerland or the UK within the past 14 days.  These notices have been applied to people with a history of travel to mainland China (except for Hubei province), France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Spain before.

3. Work pass holders entering Singapore from Malaysia

The Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee has agreed that the transport of all types of goods between Malaysia and Singapore will be facilitated during the duration of Malaysia’s Movement Control Order. As such, those conveying essential services, or supplies (e.g. lorry drivers, vegetable supply truckers, frozen supply truckers) via land and sea crossings will be exempted from MOM’s entry approval and SHN requirements.

Starting March 25, all new and existing work pass holders (including dependents) planning to enter Singapore from Malaysia must obtain MOM’s approval before they begin their journey. This is regardless of the mode of travel into Singapore.

The Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee agreed that the transportation of all types of goods between Malaysia and Singapore would be facilitated throughout Malaysia’s Movement Control Order. Therefore, transportation services or essential supplies (for example, truck drivers, vegetable delivery truckers, frozen supply drivers) via road and sea transport will be exempted from MOM’s entry approval and SHN requirements.

Leave Of Absence (LOA)

With the increasing risk of importing COVID-19 cases into Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower has called on companies to apply for a leave of absence (LOA) for employees returning from abroad between March 14 and 20, before stay-home mandatory requests for all people entering Singapore kick in.

Employers who place their employees in this voluntary LOA will be able to request daily assistance under the MOM program to reduce the companies’ financial burden during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This initiative follows recent, more stringent measures applied by schools to limit the spread of coronavirus after more infections and an increase in imported cases has been recorded in Singapore.

All students and staff returning from overseas between Saturday (March 14) and Friday (March 20) will be entitled to a mandatory 14-day leave of absence from the date of return.

MOM said companies should adopt flexible work arrangements to allow these employees to work from home during the 14-day period. Such companies should continue with existing flexible work and leave arrangements, including requiring their employees to use annual leave to cover the company that imposes the LOA.

The Government recognizes that many parents have been affected by this national measure due to the need to provide care for their children during this period. At the same time, it is a useful precautionary measure for people who have traveled recently to stay away from the workplace to prevent further transmission. Hence, MOM encourages employers to similarly impose LOA for all employees returning to Singapore between 14 and 20 March 2020 if they have not been issued with SHN. To help these companies, the MOM will allow them to apply for the $100 daily support under the Leave of Absence Support Programme (LOASP), which covers only employees who are Singapore Citizens (SC), Permanent Residents (PR), and Work Pass holders. Companies can also claim a levy waiver for their affected work pass holders. Those who are self-employed and who have to put themselves on LOA will similarly be allowed to claim this daily support.

Eligible employers will be able to apply for daily assistance for each affected employee after their LOA is completed. However, employers, Singaporeans who are self-employed and permanent residents will not be able to claim under the support program if they work remotely during the LOA or if the affected employee must use his/her annual leave, parental leave or any other type of leave to cover the LOA.

In addition, people who have been placed on stay-home notice when returning to Singapore and whose travel was not between March 14 and 20 are not eligible for daily support under this program.

A number of employers have implemented a policy in which employees returning from overseas travel between March 14 and March 20 will be put on company-based LOA (company-LOA). These employers should continue with current flexible work arrangements (FWAs) or leave arrangements, including requiring employees to take annual leave to cover the company-LOA.

During the company-LOA period, employers should apply FWAs to allow these employees to work from home. Since the company-LOA would not be discussing with employees before the travel abroad commenced, employers are encouraged to provide additional paid leave to employees if work from home is not feasible.

MOM will extend LOASP to employers who give additional paid leave to employees who have returned to Singapore between March 14 and March 20 to cover the company-LOA. SEPs will also be eligible if they have a self-imposed LOA in 14 days.

Employers and self-employed SCs and PRs will not be eligible for LOASP if:

  • Work performed remotely during the company-LOA phase;
  • Affected employees are required to use annual leave, childcare leave or other paid leave entitlements during the company-LOA phase;
  • Affected employees have been included in the mandatory SHN upon returning to Singapore but the trip did not begin before the date specified to meet the LOASP criteria.

Quarantine Order (QO)

Quarantine Order (QO) is a legal order intended to isolate an individual who is suspected of being a carrier of an infectious pathogen or in close contact with a person confirmed to be infected with an infectious disease, in this case – COVID-19.

Most individuals receive QOs for quarantine at home, but if they do not have suitable accommodations, they can also serve at the Government Quarantine Facilities (GQFs).

People in QO cannot leave their houses or GQFs and cannot contact other people. Visitors will not be allowed for those on the QO, and all food and necessities will be delivered to them. QO people need to monitor their temperature and report their health status to their QO agent via video call at least 3 times a day.

Because the QO is enacted under the Infectious Diseases Act, noncompliance will be severely punished. Auxiliary Police officers are deployed to check in place and ensure QO compliance at home and the GQF.

If you belong to the QO group, you are considered paid leave for hospitalization, as part of an employee’s right to leave for admission. Besides, the Quarantine Order Allowance Scheme offers a $100 daily claim under QO to help minimize QO’s financial impact. Both self-employed individuals and companies with employees served with a QO may claim this allowance.

Self-employed individuals must be Singapore Citizens or PR and cannot break the terms of their QO. Companies wishing to receive this benefit must be registered in Singapore and their employees serving QO must be Singapore Citizens, PR or work pass holders working in respect of the terms of their QO. The company must also show that they continue to pay this employee during the QO period. People with QO who are unemployed and need financial assistance can contact their QO agent for help.

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