Coronavirus: Isolation in the comfort of a hotel

Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa is one of the hotels designated as a dedicated facility for guests serving their stay-home notice. The hotel is equipped with closed-circuit camera monitoring and a 24-hour, on-site emergency response team. PHOT
Guests at the Village Hotel Sentosa. The Government has arranged for returnees to be transported directly from the airport to their designated hotels. Guests are pre-checked in before arriving at the hotel so all they need to do is pick up their room keys from designated locations. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa is one of the hotels designated as a dedicated facility for guests serving their stay-home notice. The hotel is equipped with closed-circuit camera monitoring and a 24-hour, on-site emergency response team. PHOT
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa is one of the hotels designated as a dedicated facility for guests serving their stay-home notice. The hotel is equipped with closed-circuit camera monitoring and a 24-hour, on-site emergency response team. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa is one of the hotels designated as a dedicated facility for guests serving their stay-home notice. The hotel is equipped with closed-circuit camera monitoring and a 24-hour, on-site emergency response team. PHOT
Staff of Village Hotel Sentosa demonstrating how they disinfect themselves. Precautions are taken to ensure the health of both employees and guests serving the stay-home notice. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Staff at designated hotels try their best to help guests back from UK, US and serving the SHN

Life in isolation is not all bad for those returning from overseas who have to remain in designated hotel rooms while serving their 14-day stay-home notices (SHN).

Hotels deliver three meals a day to the guests, with some providing local favourites like laksa and char kway teow. Certain hotels also offer laundry services and personal shopping services to help guests get their hands on daily essentials.

Some resorts are also coming up with ingenious ways to keep cabin fever away. For example, at Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa, staff could soon be conducting regular exercise sessions on the hotel's garden lawn. Guests will be able to join in and stretch their legs from the safety of their balconies. The hotel is also looking into providing colourful art and craft materials for younger guests.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Tuesday that all those returning from the UK and the US from 11.59pm on Wednesday will serve their SHN in dedicated facilities instead of in their own homes.

Singaporeans returning from the two countries account for a large share of imported cases so far. About 1,200 people a day have been returning from both countries.

Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa is one of many hotels here that have been designated as a dedicated facility. Some of the other hotels include Grand Park Orchard, and three hotels under Far East Hospitality: the Village Hotel Albert Court, Village Hotel Sentosa, and The Elizabeth Hotel.

Asked why the hotels decided to take in SHN guests, chief executive officer of Far East Hospitality Arthur Kiong said: "As a home-grown company, we feel it is our national duty to support government initiatives, and to help our fellow Singaporeans and residents navigate these waters. It is during times like these that courage, generosity and resilience make a difference."

The Government has arranged for returnees to be transported directly from the airport to their designated hotels. Guests are pre-checked in before arriving at the hotel so all they need to do is pick up their room keys from designated locations. Since it is mandatory for them to serve out their SHN in the hotels, the cost of their stay will be paid by the Government.

In a joint statement, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA) expressed gratitude to participating hotels for helping to combat the spread of Covid-19.

 
 

The statement said: "Through a multi-agency effort involving STB, SLA and other public service organisations, the Government was able to procure SHN facilities in a matter of days, to quickly ramp up the supply of rooms to house many of the returnees to Singapore.

"The public can be assured that proper measures will be put in place to ensure that all participating hotels abide by proper protocols for cleanliness and safety during the 14-day SHN period for occupants."

NATIONAL DUTY

As a home-grown company, we feel it is our national duty to support government initiatives, and to help our fellow Singaporeans and residents navigate these waters. It is during times like these that courage, generosity and resilience make a difference.

CEO ARTHUR KIONG, of Far East Hospitality, on why the hotels decided to take in SHN guests.

PROUD TO CONTRIBUTE

Honestly, a lot of fear is due to a lack of understanding. These guests are all healthy people that do not display any symptoms.

The 14-day isolation is a precautionary measure... As a Singaporean, I feel proud to be able to contribute and support my country in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER JOSIE LAM, at Grand Park Orchard, one of those attending to SHN guests.

During this period, designated hotels are accepting only SHN guests, with some hotels even completely closing off access to members of the public.

Hotels that were previously accommodating regular guests made arrangements for those people to move to sister hotels. For example, prior to taking in the SHN guests, Grand Park Orchard relocated existing guests to Grand Park City Hall.

Precautions are taken to ensure the health of the SHN guests and staff, and that there is minimal interaction between both parties.

Some precautions include temperature screening for guests upon arrival, regular temperature screening twice a day for staff, designated lifts for guests, and meals delivered in disposable containers which are left at the room door for guests to collect. Guests are also required to stay in their rooms at all times.

A spokesman for Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa said: "The hotel has stepped up precautionary measures since January, which include increased frequency for cleaning and sanitising of hotel facilities and all public areas, and masks and sanitiser are placed around the hotel readily available for usage."

The resort is also equipped with closed-circuit camera monitoring and a 24-hour, on-site emergency response team.

Hotels are also helping to allay the feelings of solitude of guests. Staff check in daily via telephone or write handwritten notes of encouragement to provide some human connection.

Executive housekeeper at Grand Park Orchard Josie Lam, one of those attending to SHN guests, said: "Honestly, a lot of fear is due to a lack of understanding. These guests are all healthy people that do not display any symptoms.

"The 14-day isolation is a precautionary measure."

She added that she felt safe even though there were some cases of those on SHN testing positive for the coronavirus.

She said: "If you think about it, in a controlled environment such as the hotel, the chances of getting the virus is less than, say, going to a crowded club. As a Singaporean, I feel proud to be able to contribute and support my country in the fight against the spread of Covid-19."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 29, 2020, with the headline 'Isolation in the comfort of a hotel'. Print Edition | Subscribe