Coronavirus: Hotels can open for staycations again

070420 - Hotel start for Staycation

The Shangri-La Hotel’s reception counters, fitted with plastic shields.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Updated from : The Straits Times4 July 2020

When circuit breaker measures kicked in on April 7, civil servant Nur Atiqa, 29, and her husband had their bookings in two local hotels on Sentosa cancelled.

“In fact, we had booked those hotels as a replacement for our cancelled honeymoon plans due to the Covid-19 situation,” she said.

The couple will be able to resurrect those plans soon, with hotels given the go-ahead to open for staycations again, subject to approval from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

The STB announced in an advisory yesterday that hotels may apply to resume two activities: providing accommodation to guests for the purposes of leisure, and opening their recreation areas for children, such as a kids’ club.

But hotels must adhere to various safe management measures for their respective applications to be approved, the STB said.

These measures include staggering the check-in and check-out timings for guests in different rooms.

Hotel guests would be required to wear a mask within the hotel, except when they are in selected areas such as their own room, or engaging in certain activities such as eating. They would also be required to make a declaration as to their purpose for staying at the hotel.

For the function areas, the hotel is required, among other things, to identify hot spots for potential bunching of visitors and implement a control mechanism to prevent or disperse crowds. “This could include deployment of safety ambassadors to remind attendees against clustering and loitering in common areas,” the STB said.

Hotels with a kids’ club would have to comply with additional measures, including ensuring that groups of visitors entering together do not exceed five people.

Hotels which have been designated as government-contracted facilities for Covid-19 purposes, such as those housing individuals on stay-home notice, would also have to fulfil additional requirements.

For example, they have to allocate all rooms occupied by such individuals to dedicated floors, wings or blocks that are segregated from other guests.

Once a hotel’s application has been approved, it has to submit – via an online portal – the number of workers who are on-site within two weeks of resuming operations.

It also has to submit online a set of data every week, including the number of room bookings received.

Ms Kwee Wei-Lin, president of the Singapore Hotel Association, said domestic tourism would give a much-needed financial boost to hotels in Singapore. “As we gradually prepare for the return of international travellers, staycations will pave the way to better the financial health of our industry,” she added.

Mr Jim Khoo, area general manager of the Sentosa cluster, Far East Hospitality, said The Barracks Hotel Sentosa is anticipating a steady stream of locals, given the “pent-up demand for getaways”.

He added: “We are also aware that locals are still cautious, and safety and cleanliness will be a key criterion when deciding on a staycation spot.”

Ms Atiqa is happy to hear that staycations are possible again.

“We have been waiting for the resumption of hotel services here, since we would not be able to travel out any time soon to celebrate the marriage,” she said.

She is not deterred by the additional measures to be implemented by the hotels, saying it was better to have more measures in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Tay Koong Jye agrees, noting also that travelling overseas was not an option now. “These measures have essentially become the norm everywhere else,” said the 28-year-old, who works in the aviation industry.

Civil servant Tham Shen Hong, 28, said: “So long as the hotels are judicious about hygiene and consistently disinfect their premises, I do not think we have much to fear.”