As Covid-19 infections continue to surge in metro Manila and nearby provinces, more hotels are needed to be converted into temporary treatment facilities, but existing quarantine hotels are not even enough to accommodate more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning to the country.
Philippine Hotel Owners Association (PHOA) president, Arthur Lopez, said in an interview with ABS CBN’s Teleradyo yesterday (April 7) that their 78 quarantine hotels, 44 of which are in metro Manila, are “all fully booked”, with no rooms left to be repurposed as temporary treatment facilities.
Lopez added that “we have been scrounging around for other hotels” as more OFWs are returning to the Philippines and have to quarantine per existing regulations.
Apart from the 78 quarantine hotels owned by PHOA members, there are thousands more that are allowed to operate as quarantine hotels.
There are also 24 additional hotels with 2,442 rooms that have been converted into isolation facilities for Covid-19 positive patients. They are in Metro Manila, Cordillera Administrative Region, Davao Region and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon).
Metro Manila and neighbouring Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan are currently under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) – the strictest form of lockdown – due to the alarming increase in daily Covid-19 infections.
The Department of Tourism classifies hotels and other accommodations under three categories: Regular hotels for staycation; isolation hotels for Covid-19 positive patients; as well as quarantine hotels for returning OFWs, foreign nationals allowed to enter the country, health workers near their place of work, and those unable to quarantine in their homes.
Under the ECQ, even the 15 luxury hotels in the metro classified as staycation hotels are not allowed to accept guests.
The Philippine College of Physicians has formally requested the government to convert several hotels into temporary hospital facilities as 14 out of 21 hospitals in metro Manila are almost full and many patients had to be turned away. The group said it is ready to help the government convert hotels into medical facilities for mild cases such as the elderly with comorbidities.
Lopez disclosed that he met up with senator and Philippine Red Cross chief Richard Gordon and his group who was asking hotels to donate bedsheets, toiletries and other items to be used in isolation facilities that are being set up in the University of the Philippines Dormitory, La Salle University in Pasay and Ateneo High School.