Hotels booming in business as demands for temporary accommodation for M’sian workers increase

Hotels were one of many businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 virus outbreak, but as Malaysia closed its border to control the spread of COVID-19 virus in the country, there seems to have a spike in demand for temporary accommodation in Singapore.

After the Malaysian government announced a nationwide restricted movement order beginning 18 to 31 March amid the COVID-19 virus outbreak, Singapore’s Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on 17 March that temporary accommodation had been secured for over 10,000 Malaysian workers who are willing to stay in Singapore until the restrictions orders are lifted.

She also announced that firms will be provided with the support of S$50 per worker, a night for 14 nights, adding that more details on how to apply for the allowance will be shared later.

Citing the move as a “temporary relief measure”, Mrs Teo said that companies will be given time to evaluate their manpower needs and to put in place “sustainable arrangements” for the time being.

She also encouraged affected workers to try staying with their family, friends or colleagues who are able to accommodate them, or to stay in hotels or hostels.

This has inevitably led to hostels and low-cost hotels booming in business as hundreds of Malaysian workers and Singaporean employers have booked rooms amid Malaysia’s two weeks of lockdown.

Following that, about 20 hostels and budget hotels said they are fully booked until the end of the month, TODAY reported on Wednesday (18 March).

Manager at A Beary Good Hostel, Angeline Wong indicated the hostel phone has turned into a “hotline” fielding calls from Malaysians and their Singaporean employers ordering rooms for them.

Vintage Inn boutique hotel had one of the busiest nights on the day before the lockdown in Malaysia took effect, according to its hotel manager Muhd Danial, adding that two of his company’s properties in Little India and Clarke Quay were fully booked until the end of the month.

The business in Jamilah Boutique Inn at Aliwal street has increased by 70 per cent after the lockdown in Malaysia and it is now accommodating more than 50 Malaysians, said its front desk receptionist Helen Yeo.

According to TODAY, hostels started to turn potential guests away due to the spike in demand for bed space in the next two weeks.

Manager of Pine Hostel at Tyrwhitt Road in Jalan Besar, David Peh said he cannot accommodate companies that are still looking for beds for their Malaysian workers now, as all of 100 beds at his hostel have been booked until the end of March.

“We accepted a total of about 80 Malaysian employees yesterday from factories and cleaning companies who will be staying here until the end of March. As much as possible, I try to match their requests and budget,” Mr Peh said.

He added that the hostel has received more inquiries from a company with 130 workers including maid agencies that are looking for more places for their staff members who have been issued with stay-at-home notices – issued by the Singapore government to remain indoors for 14 days as a COVID-19 outbreak precautionary measure – but the hostel has to decline as its already full.

Meanwhile, Singapore OSS Backpackers Hostel at Hamilton Road off Lavender Street had just been 40 per cent occupied before the restricted movement order in Malaysia took effect. Receptionist Max Wong said the hostel took in 50 to 60 factory workers and now is fully booked for the next two weeks.

Owner of Dream Lodge at Tyrwhitt Road, Joey Lim said the hostel took in about 20 Malaysians, adding that “the phone rang nonstop yesterday (17 March) with enquiries from technology and food-and-beverage companies whose workers needed a place to stay.”

Besides, the owner of Blanc Inn Boutique Hotel at Tyrwhitt Road, Tommy Lek indicated the sudden increase in the number of guests on 17 March was a “relief” for the business as it has barely had any guests since the outbreak occurred.

“Some companies booked the rooms only for seven days, not throughout the two weeks,” he said. “But we are mostly booked until the end of March.”

However, there are still those who have not secured any accommodation for them, such as those who had to sleep over at Kranji MRT.

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