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After 1.5 years, migrant workers thrilled to visit Little India

The Independent logo The Independent 16/9/2021 Hana O
a person standing next to a fence © The Independent Singapore

Singapore — Migrant workers living in dormitories expressed their happiness in returning to the community, visiting Little India after a year and a half.

On Wednesday (Sept 15), migrant workers felt a sense of freedom they hadn’t experienced since movement restrictions were imposed in April last year.

The pilot scheme will allow up to 500 workers residing in dormitories with no Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks to return to the community for up to six hours each week.

The first location identified for the programme is Little India, where workers must first take an antigen rapid test (ART) before the visit and another test three days after.

“The migrant workers living in dormitories will welcome the announcement made and the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) is also supportive of the easing measures, as the migrant workers have been complying with additional movement restrictions for about one a half years now,” wrote MWC on Facebook on Sept 9.

In light of high vaccination rates within the community, “it is opportune to review the challenges our migrant workers have had to live with for so long,” it added.

“Today, I’m very happy to go out. First, I will go to pray, and then I will relax,” said Veerasamy Murugan to Straits Times as he prepared to visit Little India.

It was reported that 35 workers from Westlite Mandai dormitory and four from The Leo dormitory were transported to Little India on Wednesday and dropped off in Race Course Lane.

“By bringing the workers back, it also helps us bring the community back together to work with the temple,” said Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple chairman K. Shekaran.

“We have actually been looking forward to the day when we can welcome (the workers) back and also give them the spiritual comfort that they have been longing for the last 1½ years.”

MWC highlighted that migrant workers face greater challenges as they are away from their families on top of stricter movement restrictions.

“The opportunity to socialise with friends and relatives from different dormitories or visit gathering sites will most certainly improve their overall well-being,” said MWC.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will continue to monitor the pilot scheme and evaluate expansion after a month. /TISG

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