KATHMANDU, May 23: Hoteliers of Nepal are worried as the government has decided to use hotels and resorts as quarantine facilities for Nepali nationals stranded abroad after bringing them back home.
The country lacks space to accommodate a huge number of people for quarantine. So, the government has decided to use hotels and resorts that are out of service because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is preparing to bring back Nepali migrant workers stranded in different middle-east countries. The COVID-19 outbreak has restrained human movement across the globe and Nepali hotels that rely on tourists for revenue at the moment are out of service because of the enforcement of lockdown and suspension of flights.
As the hotels in Nepal remain shut, the government has decided to quarantine Nepalis repatriated from abroad in the available spaces. But hotel operators are worried about the consequences if anything goes wrong. They say there are safety concerns that need to be addressed before their spaces are used as quarantine facilities for which they have submitted standard operation procedure (SOP) mentioning the basic requirements as safety measures to the government. “The proposal consists of conditions and precautions the government needs to support us with before we step into it,” said Shreejana Rana, president of the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), “It is not that hoteliers don’t want to help but with the situation we are in right now, it is only natural that we are worried.”
Things like bedsheets, towels and utensils used by the people to be quarantined should not be reused because of which HAN has asked the government to provide disposable supplies for them. “Many operating procedures need to be changed while we provide the service to quarantined people and after that we also need to acquire certificates from World Health Organization (WHO) stating that the space is coronavirus free,” she told Republica Online, adding, “Those who don’t have the facility to comply with the SOP can be exempted but as the government has mentioned that there is no alternative to using hotels and resorts as quarantine facilities and we as service providers cannot back off in a situation like this.”
With the increase in COVID-19 confirmed cases in Nepal, people fear the disease could spread to their locality. “Locals of the area where hotels are situated will fear if the returnees are quarantined there,” shared Binayak Shah, first vice president at HAN. “There are many concerns for which we have reached out to the government for coordination to prepare procedures to follow.”
“We are hopeful that testing will be carried out before they depart for Nepal and will still have strict safety measures at the home airport,” Rana further added. “The government while bringing migrant workers back home should adopt the best precautions available to keep everyone safe.”
Debendra KC, general manager at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) said that the airport in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Population will make preparations to make the entry more systematic and safe.