Insights from a quarantine hotel manager in HCM City for the first time cleared the nagging question of why the room rates for isolation were much higher than those at ordinary accommodations.
Travellers can pick a hotel from a list of quarantine accommodations already approved by the HCM City People’s Committee.
HCM CITY - Though finally reopening its borders again in October to meet the mounting travel demand, Việt Nam has acted cautious and required all passengers on commercial flights to the country to acquire negative test result for COVID-19 within three days prior to boarding as well as to submit information on their selected quarantine hotels.
Travellers can pick a hotel from a list of quarantine accommodations already approved by the HCM City People’s Committee. The rates range between VNĐ1.25 million (US$54) and VNĐ5 million ($215) including three meals a day, and might rise depending on what extra services the guests opt for.
“It consumes a great deal of resources, including personnel and costs related to infrastructure and services, to act as quarantine facilities,” said the hotel manager who called herself Hà.
Hà is in charge of operations at an approved four-star quarantine hotel in HCM City.
She said that her hotel must follow a set of strict criteria as demanded by the municipal Department of Health. For example, it should cease to operate commercially but for quarantine purpose solely even if there is one guest doing isolation at the time.
The hotel should meet certain conditions which facilitate the safe transport of quarantined guests and their waste, as well as to set up a 24/7 security booth and accommodate quarantined guests on a whole isolated floor. Guests who checked in on different days must stay on different floors, she said.
Hà added her hotel must also arrange the so-called ‘buffer rooms’ which literally means empty rooms in between quarantine rooms. Service staff who have direct contact with the guests must quarantine themselves for 14 days and are only allowed to go home once their guests test negative at the end of the isolation period.
A representative of the five-star quarantine hotel Holiday Inn seconded those requirements, adding that the hotel had to equip new infrastructure facilities, offer medical training to the staff and follow strict criteria of the health department regarding hygiene standards, disinfection and quarantine procedures.
“Because of such stringent disease prevention measures, room prices at quarantine hotels are not as cheap as at normal ones,” Hà said.
The room rates range between VNĐ1.25 million (US$54) and VNĐ5 million ($215) including three meals a day.
The HCM City Department of Tourism also acknowledged the efforts of the hotels to serve as a quarantine facility.
“Becoming a quarantine accommodation might sound easy enough but in reality it is a tough call for the hotels. If you want to serve quarantined guests, you must abide by several medical requirements of the health department,” said Nguyễn Thị Ánh Hoa, deputy director of the department.
Triple the network
Hoa said that the city currently has 10 hotels approved for quarantine purpose, of which two are specifically dedicated for cabin crews while the remaining eight are used for ordinary travellers entering Việt Nam with the number of rooms available totalling 940.
The department, however, has proposed to add another 16 hotels totalling 1,025 rooms, of which 15 are in the budget range with ratings of one or two stars, Hoa said.
Holiday Inn had to equip new infrastructure facilities, offer medical training to the staff and follow strict criteria of the health department to serve as a quarantine accommodation.
She added that the authority is calling on low price hotels across the city to register as a quarantine facility. That should offer travellers more options price-wise as well as to balance out the current list which only comprises hotels of three to five stars.
“The authorities are inspecting and reviewing these hotels on whether they can meet the quarantine criteria regarding the infrastructure, staff training and medical requirements. Once they meet all the required conditions, we will submit the list to the city People’s Committee to approve them as the official quarantine facilities,” she said. — VNS