In view of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in several countries, especially India, and emergence of new virus variants, Singapore is reducing entry approvals for work pass holders and their dependents entering the country in the coming weeks.
"In this period of heightened alert, we are making changes to the entry of work pass holders who have earlier obtained approvals to arrive from higher risk countries and regions from Tuesday onwards," said Singapore's Ministry of Manpower.
Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process (CMP) work pass holders who have earlier obtained approval will be allowed entry as approved, except for a small group with planned arrivals in June who will be rescheduled to arrive in subsequent weeks, said the ministry.
Migrant domestic workers who have obtained earlier approval will be allowed entry as approved except for some with planned arrivals prior to June 7 who will be rescheduled to arrive in subsequent weeks.
Other work pass holders who obtained approval to enter prior to 5 July will not be allowed to enter, the ministry said.
"We will inform employers on when to re-apply for entry when the situation has stabilised and will prioritise them for entry approval then," said the ministry in a statement.
"In view of the need to reschedule the entry of work pass holders who had already obtained approval to enter, we regret that we will not be accepting new entry applications from higher risk countries and regions with immediate effect, except for workers needed for key strategic projects and infrastructural works who we will continue to allow entry," it said.
Starting today (Friday), the Ministry of Manpower will be reaching out to affected work pass holders and their employers of the changes to their entry.
The above changes will not affect work pass holders already given or are seeking entry approval to enter Singapore from lower-risk countries and regions, under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and other approved travel lanes.
"We seek the understanding and cooperation of work pass holders and their employers for these changes. They are necessary to enable workers to enter in a safe and calibrated manner, and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 importation," said the ministry.
On Tuesday, the government had announced tightened border control measures in response to growing community infections in Singapore.
These include an extension of the stay-home notice (SHN) period for travellers from higher-risk countries or regions, from 14 days to 21, starting Saturday.
Only travellers arriving from Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are exempt, according to media reports.
It added that the government would closely monitor the local and global situation, and periodically review the measures in place.
Meanwhile, the frightening surge in COVID-19 cases in India has had repercussions around the world and Singapore has not been spared, with delays and disruptions across the economy.
Much of the impact stems from a ruling that has barred all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have travelled to India within the last 14 days from entering or transiting through Singapore since April 24, according to a media report on May 2.
The same entry ban for all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have been in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka kicked in at 11.59 pm on Saturday.
Sectors such as construction and landscape maintenance - which employ many Indian and Bangladeshi workers - have been hard hit even as they have faced an already diminished workforce since the onset of the pandemic last year, according to the report.
Home buyers are being warned of longer waiting times for their property and higher costs as construction companies turn to countries such as China and Myanmar to source alternative manpower, which may be more costly given the increased demand.