Hotel quarantine not for profit, but govt trying to haggle: Hotel Association Nepal

Kathmandu, August 22

At a time when room charges made public for users of private quarantine facilities have raised quite a few eyebrows, Hotel Association Nepal has clarified that hotels are not seeking to make profit by agreeing to be used as quarantine facilities and they are providing this service under their corporate social responsibility.

“Keeping people in quarantine in our hotels is not a business and we are not looking for profit. Yet, the government is negotiating with us. However, we are ready to provide services on the basis of the price set by the government,” said Binayak Shah, senior vice-president of HAN. He further added that the association was in fact requesting the government to take care of workers returning from abroad as most of them were jobless and had no money.

Kathmandu District Administration Office recently published a list of 63 hotels that would be used as quarantine facility for passengers arriving from abroad.

Earlier, the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre had halted the fifth phase of repatriation flights that was supposed to begin from August 17 citing lack of preparations for hotel quarantine.

Even earlier, hoteliers and the government had locked horns regarding room charges of such hotels.

“As per the government’s policy, it will be bringing 500 people per day and it has the capacity to quarantine 200 people in Kathmandu, thus it has asked us to accommodate 300 people. However, not all of them will choose to stay in a hotel as they don’t have money,”Shah said. “The government could pay for those who cannot afford.”

For a single bedroom the per day charge is Rs 9,000 in five-star, Rs 8,000 in four-star, Rs 6,000 in three-star, Rs 5,000 in two-star, Rs 4,000 in one-star and Rs 2,800 in tourist standard hotels, respectively.

For people who opt for twin sharing room, the charge per day will be Rs 6,000 in five-star, Rs 5,500 in four-star, Rs 5,000 in three-star, Rs 3,500 in twostar, Rs 2,500 in one-star and Rs 1,800 in tourist standard hotels, respectively.

Hotels will provide four meals a day to passengers.

According to Shah, of the 51,983 Nepalis who returned from abroad in the last four phases of repatriation, only 1,381 passengers had chosen hotel quarantine.

“Most people prefer the free quarantine provided by the government. Although we have very less hope in this service, we are still providing it and yet we are being criticised for charging passengers high rates, which is not acceptable,” he added.

The government has now made it mandatory for people who come from abroad to stay in quarantine for seven days or until their PCR report tests negative. The government has also decided to bring 500 passengers per day. Domestic and international flights will begin from September 1.

Meanwhile, the government is still holding discussions regarding resumption of repatriation flights. As per the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, embassies have not submitted the list of passengers and flights to be operated.

The ministry informed that as soon as it received details, the flight schedules would be published.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 23, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.