On Friday, February 21, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced that employers who make their staff deduct their mandatory leave of absence (LOA) or 14-day stay-home notice from their annual leave could get their work pass privileges suspended. They could also incur penalties for asking their staff to take no-pay leave if their staff did not travel to mainland China.

So far, MOM has taken action against 14 errant work pass holders and 15 employers.

Stay-home notices are being issued to people with a travel history to China within the past 14 days. They are advised to minimise contact with others and to monitor their health condition closely. Those traveling from Hubei are quarantined and cannot leave home for 14 days. Penalties are applicable for non-compliance.

Even those down with regular respiratory infections are getting 14-day medical certificates from their general practitioners, and advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep to themselves.

If you are stuck at home because you are doing your part to prevent the spread of Covid-19, here are some suggested activities you could pick up at home to avoid getting cabin fever.

Start a new hobby.

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Have you always wanted to learn how to knit? Ever dreamed of learning how to play the guitar? Want to take up cooking as a hobby? Being stuck at home is the best time to start a new pastime. You’ll have a lot of time on your hands and a lot of time to focus on learning something new.

Run a marathon at home.

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Being stuck at home isn’t an excuse not to stay fit. Whether you’re a serious runner or not, setting some fitness goals would be a good idea if you’re stuck at home. Stick some maps around your treadmill as a way to inspire yourself to run a marathon, for example. You’ll feel so proud of yourself afterwards, and fitter too.

Learn a new language.

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If you’ve always wanted to learn a new language or brush up on a language you already know, now is the time. Thanks to technology, you don’t even need any studying materials by your side. You can download apps or take online classes to learn a new language nowadays. You’ll be surprised by how easily you can pick up a new language in just a few days.

Grow your own crops.

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Since you’ve been advised to stay at home as much as possible, that means no panic-buying supermarket sprees and no jostling with shoppers in crowded supermarkets. Are you worried that you won’t be able to get your hands on fresh veggies? Well, if you have the space for it, why don’t you exercise those green thumbs? You can start with long beans, brinjals, chili, ginger, spring onions and pandan leaves – and you don’t even need a landed garden for it.

Finish your library of books.

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Are you a book hoarder? How many books do you have at home that you haven’t finished or haven’t even started, for that matter? Now is a great time to go through your pile of books and feed your mind with fresh and good literature.

Take on home improvement projects.

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Now is also the best time to start working on that home improvement project you’ve been putting off for a while. Need to give your garage a paint job? Need to install some new shelves? Whatever it is, get to it while you have a lot of time on your hands.

Write a novel.

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Are your creative juices flowing? Channel them into writing. Write a novel to pass the time; you might even get it published later. If you want, you can also start small by simply jotting down your thoughts or starting a bullet journal to keep track of your life.

Binge-watch a bunch of shows.

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Want to do something that doesn’t require that much effort? Enjoy your days at home by unwinding with some good coffee and catching up on shows you haven’t been able to watch because of, well, daily life. If you’ve missed out on zeitgeist shows like Big Bang Theory, The Story of Yanxi Palace, The Good Place and Game of Thrones, now’s the time to find out what the fuss is all about.

Practice yoga or meditation.

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On that note, you can also channel your mind into practicing something peaceful and calming, like yoga or meditation. Learn to make it a part of your everyday life, so you can use it even once you are no longer stuck at home.

Declutter your home.

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Is your home a mess? Are many of your belongings no longer sparking joy? Time to summon your inner KonMari. Sort out your things for a tidier house and a clutter-free life. Make piles of things you want to donate, things you want to sell, and things you want to throw out. Then, organise the rest of the things you decide to keep in a way that’s easy to maintain.

Declutter your digital life.

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On that note, you should declutter your digital life, as well. Delete all of the files on your laptop that you no longer need. Make backups of important files. Clear out your hard drives of old files. Make proper folders for your files. Delete old emails. Organise your digital files. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

Learn how to cook new dishes.

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Whether you already know how to cook or have no knowledge in the area whatsoever, this is one skill that will be useful for a long time to come. No more bread at the store because all your neighbours are hoarding for the next zombie apocalypse? All you need is flour, salt, water and yeast to bake your own bread. Learn how to cook, in general, or learn how to cook new dishes via YouTube videos or online recipes.

Go online shopping.

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Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. If you miss going out for some retail therapy, why not shop from the comforts of your own home? Fortunately, there are many online stores that you can turn to if you want to shop for things that you need or simply want. Just make sure you don’t overdo it.

Finish a video game.

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When was the last time you finished a video game? If you have a gaming console at home, free your mind for a bit and invest some time in a video game. It may seem like a waste of time to some; but after putting yourself into your teenage mentality for a few hours (or days), you’ll feel incredibly refreshed afterwards.

Earn some extra money online.

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The most productive thing you can do while you’re stuck at home is earn some extra money. There are many online sites that provide freelance jobs, such as writing, transcribing, or graphic designing. Just find a niche that you’re good at and make some extra money while you’re stuck at home.

Got any other tips on how to keep yourself from getting bored while stuck at home? Share them with us!