Forum: Stay-home notice scheme should be governed by the free market

I am a Singaporean working overseas and have had several experiences in the last 1½ years serving a stay-home notice (SHN) at dedicated facilities.

My three experiences of quarantine in Singapore at dedicated facilities have not been pleasant.

Because I have allergies and a sensitive digestive system, I need a hotel that can cater to my dietary and other needs (such as not being placed in a fully carpeted room).

However, making any special request to the SHN team is a nightmare - it takes a long time for it to respond to e-mails, and I have called the hotline and waited almost two hours for the phone to be picked up.

Non-medical (medical requests must be backed by a letter from a professional) and non-emergency requests are not entertained and are referred to the hotel desks.

Hotel desks which cannot cater to the requests will in turn ask guests to contact the SHN team. It is a typical case of passing the buck.

There are also people serving SHN who are angry about being placed in three- or four-star hotels, as opposed to the five-star hotels that others get, since the cost of the stay is the same regardless of the hotel they are allocated.

This lose-lose situation could have been avoided by leaving the SHN scheme to be governed by free market principles, with people paying more for better quality or to have special requests met, while still keeping the necessary health and safety restrictions in place.

This is what is practised in many countries, where one chooses his hotel from an approved list according to one's quarantine needs or preferences. Choices of transportation are also available and arranged safely.

I am surprised that a vibrant society like Singapore's, that prides itself on being able to cater to the diverse needs of individuals, has locked itself in a scheme that is so restrictive.

The current situation also means that the SHN team is overwhelmed and is not in a position to offer first-class public service.

Sometimes, it is better to leave things to businesses - consumers choose them, and they will in turn take care of guests who are paying them willingly.

Joanne Lin

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