Foreign worker told to stay home amid outbreak punished for visiting casino

File photo.
File photo.

Working from home may be the new normal in virus-wary Singapore, especially for foreign workers instructed to semi-quarantine amid the COVID-19 outbreak. But that doesn’t mean they can go gallivanting about, at least not on a surveillance-happy island. 

The Manpower Ministry this week fired a warning shot at any foreign worker who might be breaching rules requiring foreigners on work visas who visited China in the last 14 days to mostly stay home as part of containment efforts. 

Those under mandatory semi-quarantine are not allowed outside their places of residence for too long and should remain contactable by the ministry. However, two foreign workers were busted in the past two weeks for breaching the rules of what’s euphemistically called a “Leave of Absence,” with one permanently banned from working in Singapore after he was caught visiting a casino. The other received a “stern warning” for leaving home too long for a meal.

“[The ministry] has been conducting regular checks through physical inspections, telephone and video calls as part of ongoing efforts to ensure that work pass holders on mandatory [Leave of Absence] abide by the requirements,” Monday’s statement read.

“Of the 10 work pass holders, six had their work passes revoked,” it added. Three of the remaining five foreigners did not respond to multiple calls from the ministry. 

The ministry did not reveal how the other two had breached semi-quarantine requirements. 

The ministry also gave “stern” warnings to three employees who were told by their employers to work while on semi-quarantine. 

Three companies, freight forwarding firm Element Logistics, architecture firm SCDA Design, and manufacturing firm Cham Brother Engineering may not be allowed to hire foreigners to work for them in Singapore over the next three years. 

Two weeks ago, the ministry announced on Feb. 9 it had repatriated four foreign workers and banned them from working in Singapore after the workers had breached the semi-quarantine requirements. 


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