COVID-19: Government explores using hotels as quarantine facilities
The announcement of a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers coming into Barbados resulted in mass cancellations of hotel reservations.
The temporary suspension in business operations has forced some hotels to close their doors and a handful of hoteliers may be offering their properties to help Government in its fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds announced that to date, 37 hoteliers, who fall under the umbrella body of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) have discussed with government their intentions for operations over the next three to six months.
Approximately 24 hotels have indicated they will temporarily cease operations. Four of those properties have voiced an interest in using their premises as a quarantine facility as Government seeks to expand its health care capacity with 14 reported cases of the coronavirus.
"Four indicated an interest in using their plant if the need arises as a location where we can do quarantining of people who may need to be quarantined if Barbados does not have sufficient quarantine facilities available. We have tentatively 214 rooms which might be available for quarantining in hotels if the need arises.
"As we have come to an element of community spread on-island it, therefore, becomes necessary to look at broadening the basis of quarantine facilities and that’s why the discussion with hotels has begun because that gives us an opportunity to use properties that are already established. You don’t have to come and build it and spend a lot of money and as long as we can enter into an appropriate arrangement with the Ministry of Health and also the labour movement then it is an option that is immediately available to the government."
The Minister of Tourism also said that 10 of the 24 hotels stated they would use this period to do substantial renovations to their premises in anticipation of reopening and nine hotels wanted to use the closure for maintenance and upgrading of their properties.