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Migrant workers to return, but at a cost

BANGKOK: Businesses will be permitted by the Labour Ministry to import migrant workers once again, but at a steep cost associated with COVID-19 surveillance.

Migrant workers queue up for Covid-19 testing at an apartment in Samut Sakhon last December. Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool

Employment of Myanmar, Lao and Cambodian nationals will be secured under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the respective countries as part of an effort to fill the void created in the labour sector by workers returning home en masse as the situation worsened, reports the Bangkok Post.

Emerging migrant policy management meeting yesterday (Sept 13), Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said business operators will be able to apply to recruit migrant workers at provincial employment offices.

On lodging each application, employers must pay a work permit fee of B1,900. Once the workers arrive, they will undergo three RT-PCR tests, each costing B1,300, and a 14-day quarantine at state-certified facilities charging B500 per day or B7,000 for the entire quarantine duration. In addition, the employers must pay for the workers’ COVID-19 medical insurance worth B900.

That amounts to a sum of B14,000 per worker for employers and also excludes the costs of travel and visas.

Meanwhile, the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is concerned about a resurgence in infections as restrictions are lifted and people lower their guard.

CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said the virus containment measures were adjusted to allow certain businesses and economic activities a chance to resume.

“We’re quite disheartened to see how some people are behaving,” he said.

The spokesman said the national daily caseload still exceeds 10,000.

Funerals, along with marketing and sales events were also specifically named as hotspots for infection as attendees were not practising appropriate social distancing.

He added regulations were defied by who secretly organised parties. Markets were also relaxing the health scanning of their customers.

Strict health surveillance rules must be maintained until the end of the month at least, said Dr Taweesilp.

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