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Unvaccinated workers cannot return to workplace from Jan 15, with pre-event Covid-19 test concession removed: MOH

SINGAPORE — Unvaccinated employees will not be allowed to go back to the workplace with a negative Covid-19 test result from Jan 15, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Sunday night (Dec 26).

With more employees heading back to the workplace in the new year, the Ministry of Health said there may be an increased risk of workplace transmission given the spread of the more transmissible Omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19.
With more employees heading back to the workplace in the new year, the Ministry of Health said there may be an increased risk of workplace transmission given the spread of the more transmissible Omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19.

SINGAPORE — Unvaccinated employees will not be allowed to go back to the workplace with a negative Covid-19 test result from Jan 15, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Sunday night (Dec 26).

The authorities had previously implemented a "vaccinate or regular test" policy for workers from Jan 1 next year, but had  earlier said they would review this concession for unvaccinated staff members.

The ministry came to a decision to remove this concession after discussing it with tripartite partners, who support the move, MOH said.

Meanwhile, partially vaccinated employees, including those who have taken only one dose of the two-dose messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine, will have a grace period until Jan 31 to complete their vaccination. During this period, they may still return to the workplace with a negative pre-event test result from Jan 1.

"This change will help to protect unvaccinated individuals and to create safer workplaces for everyone," said the ministry.

With more employees heading back to the workplace in the new year, the ministry said there may be an increased risk of workplace transmission given the spread of the more transmissible Omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19.

Higher-risk workplaces are already placed on mandatory routine testing protocols, with the Government extending funding support for vaccinated people on rostered routine testing (RRT) until March 31 next year.

Nevertheless, MOH encouraged firms to implement regular testing for all employees, even if the workforce is highly vaccinated and thus protected from severe disease, as regular testing will help detect infections early and allow people to take precautions to self-isolate and protect others around them.

To this end, the ministry said it will conduct a second round of voluntary distribution of antigen rapid test kits for workplaces to lower-risk workplaces. 

"Firms with employees that work onsite and are not already subject to mandatory RRT may apply for eight antigen rapid test kits per onsite vaccinated employee for weekly testing over a two-month period, if they require the funding support," said MOH, adding that applications for the kits will open from Jan 3 to 31.

In addition, vaccinations will also be made a condition for new applications of long-term passes, work passes and permanent residents (PRs) from Feb 1. Renewals of existing work passes will also come with this requirement.

MOH said the vaccination statuses of new Singapore PRs, student passes and long-term visit passes will be verified during the pass issuance process, while employers of work pass holders and dependents have to make a declaration of vaccination and present vaccination certificates as part of the verification process.

The verification process may also include taking serology tests to show the presence of antibodies following vaccination. Should they test negative, applicants will be require to complete the full vaccination regimen in Singapore before they can be granted their passes.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus MOH vaccination

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