The government is aiming to raise the number of hotel rooms used for quarantine to 10,000 to meet rising demand caused by Taiwanese returning home for the Lunar New Year holiday, which is from Feb. 10 to 16, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday presided over a ministerial meeting, in which he asked the Tourism Bureau to meet with local government officials and hotel association representatives to study the possibility of building a mechanism to balance the supply and demand of quarantine hotel rooms nationwide.
The goal would be to increase the number of quarantine hotel rooms to 10,000, he said, adding that Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chi Wen-chung (祈文中) would oversee progress.
Quarantine hotels nationwide can provide about 16,000 rooms, with an average occupancy rate of about 50 percent, Tourism Bureau data showed.
More than 1,000 rooms could be added, the bureau said.
Some local government officials said that it would take at least two to four weeks before new hotels could accept guests who are required to undergo quarantine, as their facilities must first be inspected and approved by health and construction department officials.
In addition, hotel workers must be trained to handle guests in quarantine, they said.
Lin has asked Chi to discuss with officials if there is any way to shorten the preparation time for the hotels, which would help them meet demand faster.
As the Ministry of Health and Welfare is to start enforcing a one-person-per-room policy from Friday next week for those who must undergo quarantine, which could lead to a shortage of rooms, the bureau could consider encouraging people undergoing quarantine to stay at the family home, while other family members stay in a non-quarantine hotel, Lin said.
Families that do so would receive a daily subsidy of NT$800 per room, he said.
The bureau said that it is not immediately considering drafting hotels, as that would generate other issues, such as how much hoteliers should be compensated if they are forced to offer rooms for quarantine purposes.
Separately yesterday, China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) and EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) announced that their flights to and from the UK would be canceled until the end of next month in view of the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in the kingdom.
Both airlines had previously said that flights would be canceled until the end of this month.
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