Singapore — Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Jul 14) that a new pilot programme will allow for the entrance of more domestic helpers, after a period of limiting their number to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The programme will start by allowing helpers from Indonesia and the Philippines.
While the pandemic situation has worsened in some countries where domestic helpers come from, Ms Gan said that the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore (AEAS Singapore), which heads the programme, will be implementing additional safe management measures even before the helpers leave their countries of origin.
The Minister of State acknowledged in her post that decreasing the number of domestic helpers allowed into Singapore last May made “had inadvertently affected some of our families, in particular those with urgent caregiving needs” adding that she “held out hope that we would be able to restore inflow of migrant domestic workers as the COVID-19 situation stabilised.”
However, this is proving to be difficult given that the pandemic situation evolves quickly and the global situation is still “volatile.”
Ms Gan added that many of the helpers coming into Singapore have a high rate of Covid infections, and that curtailing the numbers allowed entry reduces the risk of importing the disease and is a further safeguard to public health.
She wrote that the Multi-Ministry Taskforce recently said that approvals for entry into Singapore for non-citizens and Permanent Residents would be even further decreased, “given the worsening situation in Indonesia.”
But she added that approvals for entry may be considered “where additional safe management measures are taken.”
The pilot programme under AEAS Singapore, to which almost 70 employment agencies have signed up and which will start this month, requires the helpers to be subject to several Covid-19 tests within a 14-day period at isolation facilities in their countries of origin before they are allowed to fly to Singapore.
Once they arrive, they will observe another 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) as well as additional Covid tests and safe management measures.
Households who wish to employ the domestic workers under the pilot programme will be asked to pay for their tests in their home countries as well as their onboarding.
AEAS Singapore “will evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot in facilitating the entry of workers while minimising the risk of Covid-19 importation.”
“I am conscious that there are many who urgently require the support of domestic helpers. MOM will work with AEAS to continue to give priority to families with urgent and challenging caregiving needs.
Once there is more certainty on the COVID-19 situation, we will allow more domestic helpers to enter Singapore,” added Ms Gan. /TISG
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