Covid-19 has hit the global tourism industry. Analysts say occupancy levels across hotels in the country have dipped to 30-32%. But a limited number hotels near the airports in Delhi and Mumbai have started getting some guests — albeit, those that are being mandatorily sent by the governments.
Since Sunday night, these new quarantine spots are being used for passengers from seven high-risk countries — China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Germany, and Spain — as part of new protocol to fight Covid-19. On Monday, the list was expanded to include flyers from UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait.
Upon arrival, passengers from these countries are being screened at public hospitals and, based on risk-profiles, shifted to isolation facilities. Those with fever or cough are being isolated. Those in medium- or low-risk category are being quarantined at a public hospital, for free, or have an option to quarantine themselves at a hotel, with highly discounted rates.
New Delhi's district magistrate Tanvi Garg on Sunday ordered Ibis, Red Fox, and Lemon Tree hotels in Aerocity to provide 36 rooms for setting up of paid quarantine facilities. The directive was issued under Disaster Management Act and Delhi Epidemic Disease regulations.
On Monday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said Mirage Hotel near the airport had been activated as a quarantine facility for flyers. After 24 hours, guests will be asked to quarantine themselves at their homes and will be monitored regularly by local health workers.
All hotels in Delhi’s Aerocity, including Marriott, Ibis, Pullman, Pride, and Novotel, were called for a meeting on Sunday afternoon and, subsequently, a circular was issued. Similarly, a meeting of municipal and government officials was held in Mumbai on Monday to finalise hotels to be used for quarantine.
“The government reached out to us for support and we are fully prepared to offer the requisite facilities. We tick all the boxes,” said J B Singh, president and chief executive at InterGlobe Hotels that owns and runs the Ibis brand of hotels. A few guests checked-in on Monday, he said.
The hotels chosen by the government have to follow certain guidelines on room rate, number of meals, hygiene, monitoring, and other amenities, according to the Delhi government order. For instance, the rate per room has been fixed at Rs 3,100 plus applicable taxes. The rates being offered to the guests from high-alert countries is almost half of the hotel’s normal rates and this is as per government order.
Also, meals to such guests can be served only in disposable utensils and latter’s movement has to be monitored through CCTVs. “All our hotels maintain high levels of hygiene,” Singh said. “They are not affected people they just need to be kept in isolation. Should a need arise, Ibis is prepared to offer more rooms,” said Singh.
A Lemon Tree Hotels spokesperson said: “We have been asked to provide rooms for isolation and follow certain process. We are working in a coordinated way with the government. These are travelers, who are asymptomatic. They just need to be isolated for observation. We have to service them in a manner that they (guests) do not have to move around much,” she said.
In Mumbai, Seven Hills Hospitals is being used for quarantine of passengers from the seven countries. Passengers are being shifted in an air conditioned bus to the hospital. While the hospital quarantine is free, the hotel facility is optional and on payment basis. The government’s move to reach out to hotels for offering isolated rooms is a blessing in disguise for the sector that is reeling under the impact of the virus, said an analyst.