Open hotels for quarantine

Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew

KUCHING: Hoteilers in Sibu have again been urged to open their hotels as Covid-19 quarantine centres.

Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Bawang Assan chairman Senator Robert Lau said this was in view of the latest pandemic outbreak in Sibu.

“Many hotels are facing an economic downturn. However, when there is a business opportunity, many hoteliers rejected it,” he said on Monday (Jan 11).

Lau said the state government was bearing all the charges for the rooms and meals for the quarantine.

“So, the accusation that the state government is not willing to pay for the hotel rooms is untrue.

“Sarawak government is spending millions and continues to spend millions on Sarawakians returning to the state,” he said.

Lau pointed out that most of the hoteliers in other cities and towns in Sarawak were cooperating with the state government.

“Even Limbang offers more hotels as quarantine centres than Sibu.

“Therefore, it is hoped that Sibu leaders and the various bodies that represent the business community will come forward to persuade and even advise their hotel members to assist in times of need,” he said.

Lau added that now was also not the time to play the blame game as it would not change the current situation.

He pointed out that returnees from Malaya were given home quarantine of 14 days instead of quarantine at hotels and centres beginning in early December last year.

“I had some concerns earlier on that this was a time bomb waiting to explode. At that time, only one hotel in Sibu was willing to become a quarantine centre, namely the 180-room Premier Hotel,” he said.

He said the choice left was either to have home quarantine or cancel all travels between Sibu and the outside world as there were limited flights from Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu at that time.

“The decision was made in favour of continuing with limited flights between Sibu, Malaya and Sabah. What better decision is left in making a choice between the lesser of the two evils? With hindsight, it is easy to say decision makers should have done this or that but whichever it is will inevitably lead to consequences.

“Totally cutting off links will leave Sibu isolated. Essential goods and services such as medicines, health officers and technicians still need to come in from Malaya. Then, there are cases of people requiring to come home due to family emergencies,” added Lau.

He said the “last trigger to the latest Covid-19 outbreak” was the non-compliance of quarantine order to stay at home and failure to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“With the benefit of hindsight again, home quarantine doesn’t work in a longhouse setting because of communal space and lifestyle. 

“What is needed now is for everyone to do their part in breaking the chain of Covid-19.

“We are all in the same boat in this challenging time. We have to work together. Only together, can we win,” he said.