Hotels battered by Covid-19 fear ruin as mandatory quarantines imposed

Johnny Wong

SIBU, Oct 13: The imposition of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for outsiders entering Sarawak will further hurt the hotel industry.

The State Disaster Management Committee had decided that Malaysians from Sabah and West Malaysia will have to undergo 14 days’ quarantine at designated quarantine centres starting Oct 10.

Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman Johnny Wong in response today said hotels in the state were already badly affected when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced on March 18.

“Most hotels then experienced zero room occupancy and a number of hotels had to lay off their staff.”

A disgruntled Wong said when hotels were allowed to resume operation under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) in August albeit with strict standard operating procedure (SOP), the room occupancy rate was extremely low at between 10 to 20 per cent.

“We are already facing a difficult time as business could not pick up when we resumed operations. But with this latest ruling, the whole hotel business will be ruined,” he feared.

Wong said the government should do away with the mandatory 14-day quarantine as it will only prevent people from other parts of the country from coming to the state.

“By right the 14-day quarantine should be done away with and replaced with strict health checks. It makes more sense to get outsiders to have their health checked first before they are allowed to enter the state.

“If a person is healthy then he should be given the opportunity to enter and not be subject to quarantine again,” said Wong.

He added this was the only way the government could help the hotel industry survive during this hard time.

“There is no point in imposing quarantine. Most star-rated hotels have more than 100 rooms and their occupancy rate is very low at just between 10 to 20 per cent.”

Native handicrafts on sale in Sibu. Locally made handicrafts are popular tourist souvenirs.

Tanahmas Hotel general manager Lang Jai Lee concurred with Wong.

“Room occupancy will be affected. Also some functions with outside (sic) speakers have to be postponed. As long as Sarawak is open with the new normal and social distancing SOP, business can still move but at slower pace. Overall revenue definitely drops with reduced occupancy and functions” he said. — DayakDaily