Second quarantine hotel to open for new helpers

The government said on Saturday it had set aside a second hotel for newly-arrived foreign domestic helpers to complete their 21-day mandatory quarantine.

For now, incoming helpers can only serve their quarantine in the Silka Tsuen Wan hotel or the government’s quarantine centre in Penny’s Bay – both of which are often fully booked.

But from November 1, the Rambler Garden Hotel in Tsing Yi will provide a total of 500 further rooms specifically for foreign domestic helpers.

Rooms will cost HK$650 per night, compared to HK$480 per night for the Penny’s Bay facility and a nightly charge of HK$800 for the Tsuen Wan hotel.

Officials said the hotel will adjust the number of rooms open for reservation each day according to the overall booking situation, and employers and agencies can start booking from 9.30am on Monday.

Cheung Kit-man, who chairs the Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association, said he is thrilled about the announcement, but hopes even more rooms will be made available in future.

“Of course [we are] happy. At least we have 500 rooms. Our industry requested for 1,000, at least they can have 50 percent of our request,” he said.

“This is of course still not enough for the whole industry since we have about 7,000 workers still waiting to come, including [from] Indonesia and the Philippines… I hope they can release 500 more [rooms]. Even [if] they open 500 more, we still need to wait about four to five months to let all the workers come to work in Hong Kong,” he added.

The government said it would consider whether more quarantine facilities can be provided, depending on the global and local outbreak situation.

“The government understands the need of local families for foreign domestic helpers. However, the global pandemic is severe and the government must vigilantly uphold the policy of guarding against importation of cases. Admission of foreign domestic helpers to Hong Kong should be resumed in a gradual and orderly manner,” a spokesman said.

On Tuesday, the government announced that five more hotels would begin offering quarantine facilities for people arriving from overseas for the three months starting on December 1. A total of 40 hotels with 11,500 rooms will be available.