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COVID-19: Singapore’s Ministry of Health Promulgates Infectious Diseases (Workplace Measures to Prevent Spread of COVID-19) Regulations 2020

The Singapore Ministry of Health just promulgated the Infectious Diseases (Workplace Measures to Prevent Spread of COVID-19) Regulations 2020 (“Regulations”) on 1 April 2020, pursuant to the Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 137). The measures stipulated under the Regulations will be in place during the control period of 2 April 2020 to 30 April 2020 (inclusive), to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Regulations clearly spell out what the various Singapore government agencies have been advising businesses and workers to do. Businesses should identify their critical business functions and essential personnel for whom telecommuting would not be practical; otherwise, all employees must work from home. Businesses should prioritize activities which require face-to-face interactions, as well as put in place screening procedures for employees and visitors at the workplace. They should also effectively communicate such arrangements and measures to employees and others. Employees who display any symptoms or are subject to a movement control measure must not go to work. Personnel of the Singapore Police Force (including the Special Constabulary), Singapore Prisons Service, Internal Security Department, Central Narcotics Bureau, Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority while on duty, and crew at work on board any ship, aircraft or any other international mode of transport are exempt under these Regulations. Any person who contravenes the Regulations shall be guilty of an offence and liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding S$10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.

Key elements of the Regulations are as follows:

  1. Employers must implement telecommuting. They must provide the necessary facilities for as well as instruct their employees/contractors/subcontractors to work from their own residence in Singapore during the control period, unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so. [Regulation 4(1)(b)] Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, “employees” includes volunteers, interns and trainees.

  2. Where employees/contractors/subcontractors are required to work at the office or other such workplaces, employers must implement the following safe distancing measures [Regulation 5]:
    a. Workers should be placed in two or more groups to avoid or minimise physical interaction between workers in different groups;
    b. Workers should not all arrive at and leave the workplace at the same time;
    c. Any worker who exhibits any symptoms or is physically unwell must report immediately to the employer; and
    d. The employer must ensure that there is a distance of at least one metre between any two individuals in the workplace. The one-metre distance is applicable for seating arrangements at workstations, in meeting rooms, and in a queue or area (e.g., pantry or waiting area).

  3. Employers must cancel or postpone organised activities involving face-to-face interactions, except for the following:
    a. If the activity is critical to the operations of the organization;
    b. Professional or vocational training or tests or certification events for professional or vocational purposes; or
    c. Educational activity for workers by an educational institution.
    While the Regulations do not identify what activities are deemed “critical to the operations of the organization”, various Singapore government agencies have advised that non-critical events, such as welfare activities or celebratory festivities, be deferred.

  4. Employers must not require or permit employees who are subject to movement control measures to enter the workplace.

  5. Employees who display any symptoms must not enter any workplace and must comply with the employer’s instructions regarding COVID-19 measures, where practical.

While the Regulations are applicable from 2 April 2020 to 30 April 2020, the Singapore government may extend the measures beyond the control period depending on the still-unfolding situation.

Copyright 2020 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 94

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About this Author

Chian Voen Wong Antitrust, Competition, and Trade Regulation Attorney K & L Gates Singapore
Senior Trade Consultant

Ms. Wong is a senior trade consultant in the antitrust, competition, and trade regulation practice group. She advises clients on international trade issues, including trade, customs, export controls, sanctions and other regulatory requirements, and investment rules. She works with clients to design optimal supply chain flows, leveraging on free trade agreements (FTA), bonded schemes, free trade zones, incentive programs, etc. She also has extensive experience advising clients on Customs, regulatory and operational matters, including classification rulings, valuation, customs audits,...

65.6713.0226
Cecil C. Leong Trade Consulting Attorney K&L Gates Singapore
Regional Director for Trade Consulting

Mr. Leong is a regional director for trade consulting in the antitrust, competition, and trade regulation practice group. He is recognized in the area of customs advisory in Asia. In Singapore, he has advised more than half of the automotive import and distribution industry for more than two decades on matters pertaining to customs valuation, classification, post-entry audits, transfer pricing methodologies, wholesale/distribution/dealer contracts and advocacy with Singapore Customs. He was involved in several high profile matters with Singapore Customs, including one resulting in a landmark decision made by the Attorney-General’s Chambers in favour of the client.

In China, Mr. Leong has been involved in several significant customs valuation cases in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Huangpu, Waigaoqiao FTZ, Pudong Airport and several other jurisdictions. He has also represented clients on their trade and customs matters in India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey.

Mr. Leong also works closely with Chinese SOEs and major Japanese multinational companies especially in infrastructure, water treatment/distribution and power generation in jurisdictions including Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines. In Myanmar, Mr. Leong has also been involved in foreign investment projects in telecommunications towers construction, automotive distribution, financial services and real estate.

65.6713.0217
Christopher Tan, Partner, Corporate and Commercial Attorney, KL Gates
Partner

Christopher Tan is a partner of K&L Gates Straits Law LLC, K&L Gates’ Singapore office, with over 17 years of practice experience. His areas of practice include corporate and commercial (with a focus on cross border mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructurings), banking and finance (including structured and syndicated loans and debt capital markets) as well as employment law, frequently and wherever necessary instructing and collaborating with locally admitted counsel across different jurisdictions (with a particular focus on South East Asia) for these...

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