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COVID-19: Penalties for breach of Singapore’s SHN, entry approval for Malaysian workers, and more

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Effective 9am on Friday, 27 March 2020, all travellers arriving in Singapore, including residents [Singapore citizens, Permanent Residents (PR), and long-term pass holders], must submit a health declaration via the SG Arrival Card (SGAC) e-Service before proceeding with immigration clearance.

This was announced by the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) yesterday (25 March).

Upon submission of their health declaration, travellers will be notified in advance, via email, to comply with the 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) once they arrive in Singapore, instead of during immigration clearance. They will also receive the following:

  • An acknowledgement email, which travellers will need to present to ICA officers upon arrival (either on mobile or in a printout);
  • A reminder on the SHN requirements 24 hours ahead of their arrival, provided they had submitted their health declaration more than 24 hours before arriving in Singapore.

At the same time, they will also be informed of the penalties under Section 21A of the infectious Diseases Act if they breach the requirements.

The health declaration will be made available before 27 March 2020 as part of the SGAC e-Service, so that travellers who are due to arrive in Singapore after 9am on 27 March can complete it in advance of their arrival.

Failure to comply with SHN requirements could result in a fine, jail term, or both.

The ICA has stressed that failure to comply with the SHN requirements will result in strict penalties.

  • If prosecuted under Section 21A of the Infectious Disease Act, people in breach of the requirements will face a fine of up to S$10,000, or up to six months’ imprisonment, or both;
  • Further, Singapore PRs, Long-Term Visit Pass holders, Dependant’s Pass holders and Student’s Pass holders may either have their passes revoked or the validity shortened;
  • Work Pass holders may get their passes revoked;
  • If one’s child/ward is a full-time student attending a preschool, school or other educational institutions in Singapore, the child/ward might be subjected to disciplinary action, including suspension or dismissal;
  • For foreign students, their child/ward’s Student’s Pass or Dependant’s Pass may also be cancelled; or
  • Short-term visitors may have their passes cancelled and they may be barred from re-entering Singapore.

In line with this, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam also announced in Parliament yesterday (25 March) that cases of a breach which are verified to be true, will be charged in court.

As cited in an article on CNA, Minister Shanmugam said he had seen recent reports of returning travellers heading out to eat local food, hosting birthday parties at home, interacting with friends, and even visiting bars and clubs.

In a separate case, a returning traveller from Myanmar had headed out to eat despite being on SHN, and posted about it on his Facebook page. To this, Minister Shanmugam said he has asked for this to be investigated.

He shared: “We are trying to verify some of these messages of stay-home notices being flouted. And if anyone, members of the public, you have information about such behaviour, please give it to the police. We will follow up, and we cannot allow such behaviour.”

Minister Shanmugam also added that those who falsely declare their travel history to avoid being placed on SHN may also be prosecuted under the law.


Entry approval and SHN requirements for Work Pass holders from Malaysia

In similar news, effective yesterday, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will require all new and existing work pass holders and their dependants, who are planning to enter Singapore from Malaysia, to obtain its approval before commencing their journey.

This is applicable regardless of their mode of travel into the country, and will apply to existing work pass holders currently out of Singapore, as well as In-Principle Approval holders who have yet to enter the country.

Once they enter Singapore, they will be placed on a mandatory 14-day SHN. Employers should note that when applying for the entry approval, they will be required to declare to MOM that they have arranged for suitable housing premises for these employees, and made appropriate arrangements for food during the duration of their SHN.

Exemptions will be made for Malaysians and work pass holders conveying essential services or supplies, as agreed upon by the Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee, given that all types of goods between Malaysia and Singapore will be facilitated during the duration of Malaysia’s Movement Control Order. The exemption will apply to, for instance, lorry drivers, vegetable supply truckers, frozen supply truckers, conveying essential services or supplies via land and sea crossings.


Employers are advised to plan for more sustainable housing options 

In light of the above, and with Malaysia extending its Movement Control Order (MCO) to 14 April, MOM has strongly encouraged all affected employers to look for more sustainable housing options in Singapore, for workers who are usually housed in Malaysia.

The Ministry said over the past week, it has worked with relevant government stakeholders to facilitate accommodation for affected workers. As a whole, the government has helped around 2,000 firms with their requests for accommodation for over 10,000 affected workers. Other firms have made their own arrangements to accommodate affected workers.

The Ministry has provided a list of suitable hotels, serviced apartments, and dormitories that employers can refer to, in finding accommodation.

It added: “MOM will now embark on the next phase, which is to work with employers to facilitate the transfer of their affected workers into more sustainable housing options in Singapore.”

Employers to note: Temporary housing support will not be extended beyond 31 March.

The Ministry had previously announced that it would provide temporary housing support to help employers defray the additional costs of housing affected workers, as a result of the MCO implemented on 18 March. However, it will not be extending the temporary housing support beyond 31 March 2020. For their own long-term sustainability and business continuity reasons, employers will need to decide on how best to house their affected workers in Singapore, and the sharing of additional costs with their workers.

Related COVID-19 FAQs provided by MOM can be found here.

Photo / Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam’s Facebook page

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