Kathmandu, May 23
Tourist standard hotels within the valley have reached agreement with the government to provide rooms to healthcare workers fighting on the frontline against the COVID-19 pandemic.
A meeting yesterday between Nepal Tourism Board and Federation of Hotel Entrepreneurs decided to provide 610 rooms in the initial phase to keep doctors, nurses, lab technicians and other health workers in quarantine.
Healthcare workers will be kept in quarantine on the basis of Staff Management Guideline — 2020 prepared by the Ministry of Health and Population for healthcare workers infected by the pandemic.
“We have submitted a list of 30 hotels located in Kalanki, Balaju, Gongabu, Gaushala, Sundhara, Thamel, Kalimati, Lainchaur and those close to Tribhuvan International Airport.
Healthcare workers of hospitals close to these hotels can be quarantined at places convenient for them,” said Hira Dhuj Shah, chairman of the federation.
According to him, hotels will be providing a single room, breakfast, lunch, dinner and other basic facilities at 2,000 rupees per night.
“Although we don’t have enough staffers at the moment, we will provide as many services as we can during this pandemic,” Shah said.
“Even prior to this, we had already informed the government that tourists standard hotels were prepared to serve as quarantine facilities. As all the rooms are ready, healthcare workers can come at any time,” he added.
Shah further said all the 30 hotels were prepared to serve as per the standards provided by the government. If the government requires more rooms the federation is ready to provide other hotels as well.
According to Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson for MoHP, hospitals themselves will decide where to quarantine their staffers. “The ministry will keep frontline healthcare workers in quarantine by coordinating with the respective hospitals and workers themselves,” he said.
“Based on the set guidelines, healthcare workers have to stay in quarantine for at least seven to 14 days.”
As per the guidelines issued on May 15, the MoHP will provide the budget to keep healthcare workers in quarantine in the hotels from the Coronavirus Infection Prevention, Control and Treatment Fund, Adhikari informed.
“Budget will be provided to hospitals by the ministry and the hospitals will have to make arrangements regarding the quarantine schedule and hotels convenient for them,” he said. “All the responsibilities of quarantining healthcare workers will be taken by the hospitals themselves,” he added.
The MoHP had requested the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation for the quarantine service.
On the direction of the tourism ministry, NTB had approached Hotel Association Nepal and Federation of Hotel Entrepreneurs. However, since HAN and NTB could not settle the negotiations, NTB opted for FoHE.
Shreejana Rana, president of HAN, said the amount offered by the ministry was not reasonable for HAN. “The ministry had proposed Rs 2,000, which was not feasible for star-rated hotels. However, we had promised the ministry to arrange tourist standard hotels for healthcare workers,” she said, claiming, “We are already in trouble due to this pandemic, but we have promised to provide the government with around 200 rooms.”
Rana further said that HAN was also preparing rooms for migrant workers that the government was preparing to bring back home.
HAN is discussing if it can provide rooms for returnee migrants starting from Rs 3,000 to Rs 16,000 per night.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 24, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.