Johor Bahru—In the light of a recent increase in Covid-19 infections, Singapore announced that it is extending Stay-Home Notices (SHN) from 14 days to 21 days for new arrivals to the country starting from Friday (May 7).
The only exception will be for travellers from Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
This has been difficult news for many who are coming into Singapore to work, as the cost of hotel accommodation for SHNs has gone up from S$2000 to S$3000 due to the one-week extension, a sum not factored in by many workers.
Because of the added cost of the SHN, the head of a workers group is asking if workers from Malaysia can serve their SHN in less expensive accommodations, costing S$50 per day.
Malaysian daily The Star Online reported on Friday (May 7) that some workers are finding the cost of SHN to be much too high, particularly those who return to Johor under special travel arrangements such as Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA).
These workers are required to pay in advance for their SHNs before they leave Singapore.
The higher SHN cost is burdensome for Malaysians working in Singapore, said Mr Dayalan Sreebalan, the president of the Malaysia-Singapore Workers Task Force.
He pointed out that “hundreds of lorry drivers” bringing food and supplies into Singapore are not subject to quarantine. These drivers are all vaccinated and may go in and out of Singapore daily without being required to serve SHN, he added.
According to Mr Dayalan, numerous Malaysians are now unable to go home, since their employers find the price of the SHN when they return to be too expensive.
“This is almost three months’ pay for some of these workers and how are they supposed to survive and feed their families?” Mr Dayalan said.
He also said he received many requests for help from these workers after the extended SHN was announced.
One solution he suggested is allowing Malaysian workers to serve their SHN at budget accommodations that cost S$50 (RM150) per day, instead of in more expensive luxury hotels.
The Star Online quoted one worker named Gibran who said that lower paid workers would feel the brunt of the extended SHN both in terms of their finances as well as the days given for their annual leave.
Another worker from Johor Bahru was quoted as saying he probably won’t be back in Malaysia for a long time.
“I earn about S$1,200 (RM3,700) per month and after deducting my room rent and living expenses, I hardly have anything left to send back to my family.”
He added that his employer wants him to shoulder his SHN expenses if he wants to visit his family in Malaysia.
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