3,000 hotel staff in S'pore receive Covid-19 vaccination

Hospitality staff receiving the Covid-19 vaccination at Raffles City Convention Centre on Jan 28, 2021. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - About 3,000 workers in the hospitality industry have received the Covid-19 vaccine as at Monday (Jan 25), after an inoculation programme for the industry was rolled out on Jan 15.

About two-thirds are staff in stay-home notice (SHN) dedicated facilities, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan on Thursday.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a visit to the vaccination centre at Raffles City Convention Centre, where he witnessed hospitality staff receiving their first shot.

The industry was picked as an early recipient of the vaccine, as its workers have been on the front line since March last year, with 70 hotels serving as SHN dedicated facilities, said Mr Tan.

He emphasised that vaccination is just one of the country's pillars in the fight against Covid-19, alongside testing, contact tracing and safe management measures.

Mr Tan said the inoculation programme will give workers in the industry confidence, especially with the risk of exposure to the virus when attending to those travelling from overseas.

Singapore Hotel Association president Kwee Wei-Lin hopes the vaccination programme will also help return the industry to some normalcy.

"We hope it brings back some confidence for our staff, their well-being, their families as well as international travellers when they do come back," said Ms Kwee.

The vaccine will be offered to all workers in the hotel industry on a voluntary basis, including the association's 160 member hotels, which employ about 40,000. When questioned if the workers' inoculation status will affect how they are deployed, Ms Kwee said all employees would be treated the same.

The hospitality industry was picked as an early recipient of the vaccine, as its workers have been on the front line since March 2020. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

The industry plans to complete the programme by the third quarter of 2021.

Asked about the industry's reaction to recent cases of hotel guests and staff contracting Covid-19, Ms Kwee said the industry was prepared, and that the inoculation programme is another layer of protection for staff.

Mr Edward Chew, a lobby ambassador at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, was among those who received their first shot on Thursday.

"The virus is vicious, you want to protect yourself, your family and loved ones, the colleagues you work with, and most importantly, the customers you engage," said the 69-year-old who has been with the hotel for 17 years.

Shangri-La Hotel Singapore lobby ambassador Edward Chew receives his shot at Raffles City Convention Centre on Jan 28, 2021. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Mr Britt Ng, the head sommelier at Shangri-La, hopes getting the jab would assure future customers of their safety.

"When they come and interact with us, I think they will feel more confident because we have been vaccinated," said the 34-year-old.

Food and beverage executive Ahmad Ridzuan Ahmad said he was thankful to receive his first shot, especially as cases are soaring in his home country, Malaysia.

The 35-year-old, who works for Pan Pacific Singapore, said the recent cases in hotels had him worried.

"I'm on the front line and there's a lot of interaction with guests, so when offered the vaccine, I took it very positively," he said.

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