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17 Feb 2020

17th Feb 2020

      Since 31 January 2020, we have implemented a 14-day leave of absence (LOA) for all travellers returning from mainland China (outside of Hubei) who are Singapore residents or long-term pass holders.
 
2.      We took this precautionary measure because travellers from mainland China might be infected with COVID-19 and to reduce the risk of community spread of the virus within Singapore. Since introducing the measure, we have progressively tightened the LOA and stepped up enforcement. To date, we have not had any confirmed COVID-19 case among this group of returnees.
 
Need for enhanced measures
 
3.      The number of confirmed cases in mainland China (outside of Hubei) has increased from over 4,000 cases on 31 January 2020 to over 12,000 today. 
 
4.      At the same time, there remains a substantial number of Singapore residents and long-term pass holders 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. There is a higher chance that returnees could be carrying the virus.
 
New “Stay-Home Notice”
 
5.      The Multi-Ministry Taskforce has therefore decided to introduce a new “Stay-Home Notice” (SHN) for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning to Singapore from mainland China (outside of Hubei).
 
          a.      This SHN will take effect from 18 February 2020, 23:59 hours, and will apply to all returnees with recent travel history to China (outside Hubei) within the last 14 days. 
 
          b.      Under the SHN, they will have to remain in their place of residence at all times during the 14-day period. This is stricter than the existing LOA regime, which had allowed returnees to leave their homes briefly, for example for their meals or to buy household supplies.
 
          c.      Those placed on the SHN will be reminded to monitor their health closely and minimise contact with others.
 
6.      The SHN will also cover returning workers from mainland China on work passes. For such workers, we already require employers to seek prior approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before they 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.
 
7.      We recognise that during the SHN period, some may need special assistance, for example, for their food and daily necessities. We will provide support for those who need help:
 
          a.      Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents (PRs) and Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) holders can seek assistance from the People’s Association.
 
          b.      Students can seek assistance from their schools and institutions, or the Ministry of Education.
 
          c.      Those on work passes can seek assistance from their employers or MOM.
 
8.      We will continue to implement surveillance and enforcement measures to ensure compliance with the SHN, so that the wellbeing of the community is not put at risk:
 
          a.      Those who flout the SHN may face penalties and can be prosecuted under Section 21A of the Infectious Diseases Act.
 
          b.      Foreign workers may have their work passes revoked and be repatriated. Employers too may have their work pass privileges withdrawn. Students may face disciplinary actions from their schools or institutions. PRs, LTVP and Dependant’s Pass (DP) holders may have their Re-Entry Permit, LTVP or DP revoked or the validity shortened.
 
9.      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.
 
General advisories
 
10.     The SHN is another precautionary measure we are taking to minimise the risk of additional imported cases of COVID-19. Similar to those placed on LOA previously, those issued SHNs are not suspected to have been in close contact with confirmed cases, nor are they unwell or displaying symptoms of the virus. These individuals are bearing inconvenience for the benefit of the wider community.
 
11.     We therefore urge all landlords to cooperate and to allow their tenants who are placed on SHN to serve out their full 14-day requirements. Guidelines for landlords are available at the Ministry of Health website (https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19) should they have a tenant who is placed on SHN.