More than half of Singapore's hotel rooms used in Covid-19 battle, not all can reopen for staycations: STB chief

Hotels like Village Hotel Sentosa may reopen later as they are currently involved in stay-home-notice arrangements. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - More than half of the 67,000 hotel rooms in Singapore are currently being used in the battle against Covid-19, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) chief executive Keith Tan told the media on Tuesday (July 21).

They are used as isolation and quarantine facilities, as well as accommodation for returning residents serving their 14-day stay-home notice, he told reporters during a virtual briefing on plans for a $45 million domestic tourism campaign.

While staycations are a key feature of the campaign, the hotel industry has not been given carte blanche to reopen, Mr Tan said.

"The opening of hotels for staycations has to be balanced against making sure that we have enough of a buffer of hotel rooms that are still required in case there is any subsequent surge of infections."

Hence, approval to resume operations has been done on a case-by-case basis, he added.

More than 100 hotels have submitted proposals to reopen for staycations since applications opened at the start of the month, and about 80 have been given the green light to do so thus far, Mr Tan said. The list of approved hotels is available on STB's website.

Sentosa Development Corporation chief executive Thien Kwee Eng said that about half of the island's 17 hotels have reopened, while the rest may do so later as some are involved in stay-home-notice arrangements.

Those that have yet to reopen include Village Hotel Sentosa and Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa.

Of the total attractions and hotels on the island, about 80 per cent have already resumed operations, Ms Thien said.

As of Monday, there were about 10,900 individuals serving stay-home notices at hotels, according to figures by the Health Ministry.

Apart from hotels, cruise ships, exhibition centres and chalets have also been used as isolation facilities for recovering patients with mild symptoms or those awaiting swab test results.

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This prevents hospitals from overflowing with patients who do not require critical care.

While the number of community cases has remained low, with an average of 10 new cases a day over the past week, the authorities have warned that Singapore should be prepared for a second wave of infections, given its occurrence in a number of other countries.

Mr Tan said there are no indications of this happening here yet, adding that all measures will be taken to prevent this, even as Singapore reopens its economy and locals are encouraged to step out and support businesses.

"All the government agencies that are doing safe management measure enforcement, including STB, will continue to have a very high level of checks and enforcement," he said, adding that hygiene and safety measures will be key to the campaign.

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