Over 7,500 hotel rooms in Singapore have been booked by the Government to accommodate residents who have been served the mandatory 14-day Stay-Home Notices (SHNs).
Branding the move “a massive response” to the spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Singapore, property portal 99.co noted that the booking was placed through the Singapore Tourism Board as a part of “a swift and organised whole-of-government approach to contain the spread of Covid-19 in our community”.
Bloomberg on Sat (28 Mar) reported the government as saying last week that it will assign Singapore residents returning from the United Kingdom and the United States to hotels to serve their SHNs in order to avoid the risk of transmitting the virus to their family members at home.
The said residents will be placed in the following hotels, most of them located in Central Singapore:
Those serving their SHNs in the above hotels, however, are not allowed to leave their rooms throughout the 14-day period and are not permitted to use shared hotel facilities such as the gym and swimming pool.
A 21-year-old law student serving her SHN at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa told Bloomberg that she was “impressed” by how the Singapore government treats Singaporean students returning from abroad.
“My friends said their governments are not really trying very hard to get them back home, but ours did and they put us up in hotels,” said Chelsie Lee, referring to her friends from Hong Kong and China who are struggling to secure flights back home or spending extra money to change their flight itineraries.
Several commenters similarly lauded the Government’s move to place the returning residents in hotels, given that hotels are able to house those serving SHNs away from the rest of the population in Singapore without sacrificing the comfort of those having to serve their notice.
Furthermore, placing residents in such hotels will enable the Government to easily monitor any breaches of the SHNs, given the extensive network of surveillance by CCTVs and security personnel in said hotels, in addition to a complete range of highly-trained hotel staff.
While Bloomberg reported that the stay of those serving SHNs in the above hotels will be funded by “taxpayer dollars”, one commenter said that their stay is actually “chargeable” and that the Government is “not fully footing the bill for them”.
The hotels mentioned will also benefit from the increased occupancy as a result of the Government’s booking for those serving SHNs, particularly in the wake of the huge dip in the tourism industry as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic.
A couple of commenters questioned the Government’s criteria in allocating accommodation for those required to serve SHNs, asking why certain people are given the opportunity to be isolated in such hotels while others are asked to stay in their own homes.
Last month, it was reported that those who were made to serve a Quarantine Order were housed in the Heritage Chalet located along Pasir Ris Road.
A number of foreign workers, particularly those from across the Causeway — living in Johor Bahru but who are unable to re-enter the country for the time being due to Malaysia’s movement control order (MCO) — are placed in budget hotels such as Hotel 88.
Workers whose employers did not secure the necessary accommodation for them were forced to resort to sleeping at Kranji MRT station, as reported by TODAY on 19 Mar.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced on 17 Mar that over 10,000 Malaysian workers have managed to secure accommodation in Singapore, as a result of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s collaborative efforts with “tripartite partners to support the affected companies” in finding suitable temporary lodgings for their workers.
However, she also noted that around 100,000 Malaysians working in Singapore did not have confirmed living arrangements in Singapore as 17 Mar.
“It may take some time because employers and workers have preferences, and different budgets, so we need time to match them,” said Mrs Teo.
Following the Malaysian government’s decision to extend the MCO, however, MOM on Wed (25 Mar) said that it “will not be extending the temporary housing support” beyond 31 Mar 2020.
“For their own long-term sustainability and business continuity reasons, employers will need to decide on how best to house their affected workers in Singapore, and the sharing of additional costs with their workers,” said the Ministry in a statement.
MOM explained that it has been helping to facilitate the process of securing accommodation for the affected workers alongside the Ministry of National Development, the Housing Development Board, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Singapore Tourism Board for the past week.
“MOM will now embark on the next phase, which is to work with employers to facilitate the transfer of their affected workers into more sustainable housing options in Singapore,” the Ministry added.