Occupancy rates at quarantine hotels has dropped amid an increase in the number of such facilities, hotel operators said on Monday.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has announced that 20,000 additional hotel rooms would be reserved for quarantine to increase capacity.
However, as of Sunday, the average occupancy rate at quarantine hotels had dropped to 39 percent from 59.7 percent on May 19, when the government raised the nationwide COVID-19 alert to level 3.
“We feel like we have been swindled by the government in being asked to convert to quarantine hotels,” one hotelier said.
The situation was likely caused by a relaxation in home quarantine rules allowing one person per room, instead of one person per household, and an entry ban on foreign nationals without a valid resident certificate, a source at the ministry said.
Taiwanese returning from abroad have also been unwilling to stay at the more expensive quarantine hotels, the source said.
There were about 18,000 rooms at quarantine hotels after the Lunar New Year holiday, the source added.
Occupancy fell after a community outbreak on May 10, the source said, adding that it had rebounded to 59.7 percent by May 19, when it fell again with the announcement of the level 3 alert.
Despite the decline, the ministry continued with its plan to add 20,000 quarantine hotel rooms, which brought occupancy rates to new lows, the source said.
“In Taipei, occupancy was already less than 20 percent. When they said they would add 20,000 rooms, everyone thought it was ridiculous,” New Taipei City Hotel Association chairwoman Tseng Mei-chuan (曾美絹) said.
Quarantine hotels generated most of their income from guests arriving from abroad, but now that the border is closed, they have lost that income stream, she said.
Taiwanese living abroad are reluctant to return home given the outbreak, Tseng added.
Hanns House — a quarantine hotel in Taipei’s upscale Xinyi District (信義) — said that although the number of Taiwanese undergoing quarantine has increased, the majority of them stay at central quarantine facilities, with very few choosing the more expensive quarantine hotels.
Check Inn — a quarantine hotel in Taipei’s Zhongshan District (中山) — said its close proximity to an MRT station had previously meant it was at 90 percent or fully booked at all times.
However, bookings for this month have fallen to 40 percent, it said.
“The government is having trouble keeping up with the speed of the outbreak,” the hotel said, citing a worker who had been in close contact with an infected person, but did not receive a notice to undergo quarantine and receive a government-paid COVID-19 test.
“The worker came to us on their own and said they should quarantine. The experience has caused concern among employees,” it said.
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