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COVID-19: Singapore introduces Stay-Home Notice for those returning from China

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To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce yesterday introduced a new “Stay-Home Notice” (SHN) for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning to Singapore from mainland China (outside of Hubei).

According to a media release by the Ministry of Health (MOH), this will take effect from 18 February 2020, 11:59pm, and will apply to all returnees with recent travel history to China (outside Hubei) within the last 14 days.

Individuals placed under the SHN will have to remain in their place of residence at all times during the 14-day period. This is stricter than the existing leave of absence (LOA) regime, which had allowed returnees to leave their homes briefly, for example for their meals or to buy household supplies.

Those placed on the SHN will be reminded to monitor their health closely and minimise contact with others.

The new SHN also applies to returning workers from mainland China on work passes. It is already a requirement for employers to seek prior approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before these workers travel back to Singapore. If the employers need help, MOM will link them up with hotels or dormitory operators for their workers to serve out the SHN.

Support will be provided to those who may need special assistance during the SHN period, for instance, for food and daily necessities. People who need help can seek assistance from these three organisations:

  • Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents (PRs) and Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) holders can seek assistance from the People’s Association.
  • 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.

Strict enforcement measures for individuals and employers who breach the new SHN

Surveillance and enforcement measures will be implemented to ensure compliance with the SHN, so that the wellbeing of the community is not put at risk. For instance:

With the introduction of the SHN, the Government will no longer be issuing any more new LOAs to returnees with recent travel history to mainland China (outside Hubei). The vast majority on the present regime would have served out their LOAs in the coming days, and we will continue to ensure their compliance in the meantime.

The SHN was implemented as the number of confirmed cases in mainland China (outside of Hubei) skyrocketed from 4,000 cases on 31 January 2020 to over 12,000 yesterday.

Currently, a substantial number of Singapore residents and long-term pass holders still in China, including Singapore Citizens. Many of them are expected to return to Singapore in the coming weeks, and to their workplaces or schools, after the Chinese New Year holidays in China. Given the large increase in confirmed cases in mainland China (outside of Hubei), there is a higher chance that returnees could be carrying the coronavirus.

MOM extends Leave of Absence Support Programme to businesses affected by SHN

In line with the new SHN, the MOM has announced that the existing Leave of Absence Support Programme (LOASP) will be extended to businesses and self-employed persons affected by Stay-Home Notice (SHN) requirements due to COVID-19, effective 18 February 2020, 11:59pm.

Under the LOASP, eligible employers will be able to apply for $100 daily per affected worker for the required duration of SHN.

Affected workers include Singapore Citizens (SC), Permanent Residents (PR), and Work Pass holders who travelled to mainland China on or before 31 January 2020, and who were placed on SHN upon their return to Singapore.

Eligible employers will also qualify for levy waiver for affected foreign workers for the SHN period.

Employers who wish to claim the S$100 daily support for their affected workers must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Granted additional paid leave to the affected worker for the entire duration of SHN period, without requiring the worker to use his/her original paid leave entitlements provided under the terms of employment, or treating the duration of SHN as hospitalisation leave
  • Must have complied fully with SHN requirements
  • Must have obtained MOM’s prior approval for the worker to return to Singapore
  • Unable to have work performed remotely
  • Employee must be in employment as at 31 January 2020 and for full duration of SHN.

Applications should should only be submitted after the affected person has completed serving his/her SHN. Applications can be submitted here and should be submitted within 90 days from the last day of the SHN.

Documents required for application include:

  • Proof of employment for affected workers
    CPF Form 90 for December 2019 and January 2020 (only for locals); and, itemised pay slip(s) for salary payment during SHN period.
  • Proof of affected workers’ travel to mainland China
    For workers not from PRC, a scanned copy of passport photo ID page, and entry and departure stamps from mainland China are required. For workers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), air tickets and/or boarding passes for travel between Singapore and mainland China (including transit stops) are required.

Self-employed SCs and PRs who had travelled to mainland China on or before 31 January 2020, and were placed on SHN upon their return to Singapore can also apply for the daily support of S$100.

Support under LOASP for businesses and self-employed persons affected by the Leave of Absence requirements will remain unchanged.

The LOASP is intended to help employers and self-employed persons affected by the introduction of travel conditions announced at short notice on 31 Jan 2020. Hence, individuals travelling to China after 31 January 2020 will not be eligible for the LOASP.

Photo / iStock

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