Some Migrant Workers Still Live Like They’re In Lockdown Despite Covid Being Endemic

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For most Singaporeans, life may be back to normal. To keep the economy moving we lifted most of the Covid restrictions.We can go for drinks at Clarke Quay, shop at Orchard Rd, and so on. But for migrant workers here, they are still living like Covid is not endemic.

“The lockdown is still happening for the workers,” said Jolovan Wham, former director of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, a support group in Singapore.

We encourage high-earning professionals to come but we don’t remember migrant workers enough. They are the ones who kept our city-state running during the worst crisis ever.

They spend their weekday evenings surrounded by a 2-metre-high fence at the Migrant Workers’ Centre Recreation Club. Located in the West of Singapore, the recreation club is a space where thousands of workers spend time outside their residences.

Many workers still feel that they are too confined. Some of them seem to need permission to go outside on weekdays and for a certain number of hours. A migrant worker who lives in a dormitory near the centre said: “A Singapore citizen, they can access anywhere”, but for them, it’s “not fair… it’s discrimination.”

The government was harshly criticised for how it managed the dormitory situation 2 years ago. They only started to improve living conditions for migrant workers after many reports of overcrowded rooms, poor hygiene, disorder and fights. They claim that Covid is endemic, but why are they not giving migrant workers the freedom they want?

Everyone needs freedom especially after 2 years of battling the pandemic. What’s the point of improving their dormitories when they can’t go out whenever or wherever they want? We call ourselves a first world country but it’s really a sad state of affairs for the poor workers.

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