Singapore to limit workplace access for unvaccinated people

Image from The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE, Oct 23 (Bloomberg): Singapore is set to restrict access to the workplace for those who are unvaccinated from January unless they test negative daily as part of plans to resume normal activities in the pandemic.

"Unvaccinated employees will not be allowed to return to the workplace unless they have tested negative for Covid-19 before returning to the workplace, and they will need to pay for the costs of these tests,” the health ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The testing requirements will also apply to people who are medically-ineligible to take the vaccines and pregnant women, it said.

Singapore joins Italy in introducing tough Covid rules for workers by mandating vaccinations for those planning to enter workplaces, while most countries either leave such decisions to companies, or require only selected groups such as healthcare workers and civil servants to be inoculated.

The island currently bars those not inoculated from malls, food centers and local attractions, seen as a way to prompt more people to follow through with vaccinations. In Italy, effective Oct. 15, anyone entering a workplace, public or private, must present a digital "Green Pass” or face a fine.

The pass can be obtained after vaccination or after testing negative for the virus, and employers will be responsible for checking certificates.

Singapore said only employees who are fully vaccinated, or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past 270 days, can return to the workplace from Jan. 1. Those who haven’t been jabbed will have to test negative on an antigen-rapid test carried out by an approved provider, with such results only valid for 24 hours.

Authorities on Saturday also announced that a resumption of travelers from South Asian nations including India and Bangladesh, and Myanmar from Oct. 26 after recent reviews.

Arrivals from the regions will be still subject to strict border measures that are applied to areas deemed as high-risk from the virus.

The city-state also added Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s vaccine to its national vaccination program to allow those who cannot take the mRNA vaccines to become fully inoculated. The current program has approved only those from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.

Sinovac will be used in a three-dose regime, and won’t be eligible for those below 18 years old, the health ministry said.

Other highlights:

Singapore will allow fully-vaccinated travelers from 15 more countries to enter without having to quarantine in dedicated facilities.

They include Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.Singapore will allow entry to more domestic workers on condition that they are fully vaccinated before arrival to meet urgent needs of local households. - Bloomberg

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