HONG KONG (REUTERS) – As thousands of Hong Kong citizens and expats return to the city, many seek refuge in hotels, fearing cramped apartments in one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets will put endangering families or roommates.
Social distancing is difficult in Hong Kong, where most of the city’s 7.4 million people live in apartments that average no more than 500 square feet.
Concerns have triggered an increase in occupancy rates for Hong Kong hotels ready to welcome customers into self-quarantine, even as most of the industry grapples with a devastating coronavirus crisis.
An expat who has lived in Hong Kong for over 12 years chose to self-quarantine in a hotel upon his return last week, fearing his return to his two-bedroom apartment could put his wife and children at risk. two girls.
“In case I have it, I didn’t want to make the girls sick,” he said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity around the issue.
Even before the government put in place a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals on March 19, many returnees had voluntarily isolated themselves in hotel rooms.
The number of returns has been swelled by an influx of students arriving from overseas where the virus is spreading rapidly, at a time when the infection rate in Hong Kong remains relatively low, officials said.
More than 77,000 Hong Kong citizens have returned since mandatory quarantine was imposed, government figures show.
A four-star hotel on Hong Kong Island, which had 15% of its rooms occupied at the start of the virus outbreak in January, said 60% of its rooms are now full.
“90% of our guests are here for quarantine reasons,” said a hotel sales manager, who declined to be named because she was not authorized to speak to the media.
The rest of the hotel rooms had been intentionally left unoccupied for social distancing purposes, she said, adding that in hotels that did not enforce such measures, the occupancy rate could reach 90%. .
Packages for a 14-day stay in a standard room at the Dorsett Hotel at its properties in the densely populated areas of Mong Kok and Wan Chai, costing HK $ 5,600 (S $ 1,030) and HK $ 6,888, respectively, are full until early April.
The Dorsett hotel told Reuters it had allocated a number of standard rooms for student self-quarantine.
In doing so, he hopes “to further reduce the risk of epidemics in the community,” he added.
The hotel said it has two air purifiers on each floor and a separate check-in area and elevators for quarantined guests.
Lawmaker Yiu Si-wing, who represents the tourism industry, told reporters last week that at least 14 hotels together offer 1,000 rooms for the quarantine system.
However, some travelers have complained on social media that they are stranded at Hong Kong International Airport because they cannot find hotel rooms.
“Does that mean I have to sleep at the airport for 14 days?” Says a post.