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Covid-19: Singapore residents, long-term pass holders returning from China to serve 14-day stay-home notice

SINGAPORE — From 11.59pm on Tuesday (Feb 18), Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from China will have to abide by a “stay-home notice”, which forbids them from leaving their house at all for 14 days.

From 11.59pm on Tuesday (Feb 18), Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from China will have to abide by a “stay-home notice”, which forbids them from leaving their house for 14 days.

From 11.59pm on Tuesday (Feb 18), Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from China will have to abide by a “stay-home notice”, which forbids them from leaving their house for 14 days.

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SINGAPORE — From 11.59pm on Tuesday (Feb 18), Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from China will have to abide by a “stay-home notice”, which forbids them from leaving their house at all for 14 days.

This is stricter than the existing leave of absence (LOA) regime, under which such returnees are advised to stay at home for 14 days, but are still allowed to leave home briefly, for example to buy meals or household supplies.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Monday that to date, Singapore has not seen any cases of Covid-19 among such returnees.

Speaking at a media briefing on the same day, National Development Minister Lawrance Wong said that the global situation has worsened since the LOA was implemented.

He noted that while there were 4,000 confirmed cases in China outside of Hubei when the LOA was implemented at the end of January, the number of cases has since tripled to 12,000.

“The number of cases continues to rise,” he said. “At the same time, there are a substantial number of Singapore citizens, permanent residents (PRs) and long-term pass holders still in China.”

“I think at some point in time, they will want to come back to Singapore... and there is a higher chance now that some of them will be infected with the virus.”

Those who flout the stay-home notice may face penalties and be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Act. For instance, foreign workers may have their work pass privileges revoked and be repatriated, while employers may have their work pass privileges withdrawn.

Students who flout the notice may face disciplinary action from their institutions, while permanent residents (PRs), Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) and Dependant’s Pass holders may have their re-entry permit and their respective passes revoked or validity shortened.

The stay-home notice will also cover returning workers from mainland China on work passes. For these workers, their employers will have to seek approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before they can travel back to Singapore.

Should employers need help, MOM will link them up with hotels or dormitory operators for the workers to serve out the notice.

The MOM said in a separate statement that there is no need for those serving the notice to be segregated, and others can continue to share the same room and apartment as them, though social interaction and contact should be minimised.

It added that as the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve, there may be additional requirements imposed on work pass holders from time to time.

While under stay-home notice, those who need special assistance such as receiving food and daily necessities will have support, said MOH.

Singapore citizens, PRs and LTVP holders can seek help from the People’s Association, while students can seek assistance from their schools and institutions, or the Ministry of Education.

Those on work passes can seek assistance from their employers or MOM.

NOTICE WILL BE ISSUED AT AIRPORT

Singaporean Josh Lim, 35, who is currently based in Shanghai and was supposed to return to the Republic in March, told TODAY that he might scrap his plans.

“Firstly, it’s difficult to arrange for a flight out. Secondly, I will just end up quarantined,” said the investment consultant.

He returns to Singapore every other month to visit his family. Now with the stay-home notice, his biggest concern about coming home is how his work will be disrupted.

“It would be a waste if I return only to be stuck at home for two weeks. I can’t visit my family and friends to hang out,” he said.

Mr Lim also pointed out that working from home will affect his productivity.

“Yes, I can stay at home and do my work but my efficiency will be compromised. I don’t think I’ll be more productive than when I work in the office,” he added.

The stay-home notice will apply to all returnees with a history of travel to China outside of Hubei in the last 14 days.

“We will issue them the notice when they arrive at the airport, and then ensure that they immediately go back and comply with this new requirement,” said Mr Wong.

The Government will also no longer issue LOAs to returnees from mainland China with the introduction of the stay-home notice. Those under the present regime are expected to serve out their LOAs in the coming days, and MOH will continue to ensure their compliance.

“We think this is appropriate at this juncture, it will ensure that we reduce the number of imported cases coming back from China, and then we can focus our energies on limiting or reducing the risk of local transmission of the virus within Singapore,” Mr Wong added.

MOH confirmed two more cases in Singapore on Monday, taking the number of infected people here to 77, with 24 having recovered from the virus. Four are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

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