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Singapore govt looking into financial aid for firms with workers hit by Malaysia lockdown

THE Singapore government is looking into providing financial support for companies that need to urgently accommodate their workers who will be affected by Malaysia's upcoming restrictions amid the novel coronavirus situation.

More details will be released shortly, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced on Tuesday.

The Singapore government will also work with hotel and dormitory providers to offer lower rents.

"Our objective is to minimise any impact on the delivery of services for our people," MOM said.

Many companies are now making efforts to house in Singapore their workers who commute across the Singapore-Malaysia border frequently, in view of Malaysia's announcement to implement a movement control order starting from March 18.

"Companies can encourage affected workers to stay with their relatives, friends or colleagues, who may be willing to accomodate them for a short period," MOM said. "This may be the option most amenable to some workers."

However, for workers who are unable to choose this option, the Singapore government has worked with the private and public sectors to make available short-term housing options.

These include hotels, dormitories as well as rooms and whole properties in both HDB flats and private housing, MOM said.

In providing assistance, the Singapore government will prioritise the needs of firms offering essential services such as healthcare, security, cleaning, waste management, facilities management, logistics and transport.

"We advise employers to assess their manpower needs carefully and make a considered decision as to whether they need their affected workers to remain in Singapore," MOM noted.

SBS Transit, which is 75 per cent owned by transport company ComfortDelGro Corporation, separately announced on Tuesday that it has secured temporary accommodation at several hotels for its Malaysian bus captains, effective immediately. The public bus operator debunked an online report which said its bus captains would be made to sleep on recliner chairs in depots. 

"We will continue to work with our authorities and monitor the situation as it unfolds," SBS Transit said in a Facebook post. 

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday night announced two-week restrictions in movement nationwide from March 18 to 31, in a bid to fight the Covid-19 outbreak.

Malaysians will be barred from going abroad, and all Malaysians returning from overseas will have to undergo a health check and self-quarantine for 14 days. The entry of all tourists and visitors will also be restricted.

ComfortDelGro shares were trading at S$1.61 on a cum-dividend basis as at 3.07pm on Tuesday, up S$0.01 or 0.6 per cent.