Claiming low infection rates observed while servicing foreigners in quarantine, the head of a major hotel chain in Thailand has conveyed an open letter to the Ministry of Public Health and made suggestions towards improving the current alternate state quarantine arrangements that the government has put in place.
In his letter, addressed to Minister Anutin Charnvinyakul, Minor International Chairman Bill Heinecke highlighted the very low infection rate among the 2,537 foreign nationals that his hotels have served in their capacity as alternate state quarantine facilities.
These statistics, he said in the letter, indicate that the government’s public health and safety measures are truly effective, and that the cooperation between the authorities, the healthcare workforce and the hospitality industry is solid.
Because of this, Mr. Heinecke believes that the government could ease restrictions without worry, and provide hotels more revenue as well as provide quarantined foreigners a more relaxed and comfortable stay.
According to Minor’s statistics, only 3 guests out of the 2,537 guests quarantined between June 1 and September 30th have tested positive in their first COVID-19 test, administered upon their 3rd or 4th day at the ASQ hotel.
All 3 guests have recovered by the end of the quarantine period, as none have tested positive in their final COVID-19 test administered at the 10th or 11th day in quarantine.
In total, only 0.12% of the foreigners that have been quarantined in Minor’s hotels have tested positive for the COVID-19.
Citing these results, Mr. Heinecke made three proposals to the government regarding the current alternate state quarantine arrangements:
The government should reduce the quarantine period from 14 days to 7 days. This, the Minor International chairman indicated, will convince more foreigners interested in long-stay holidays to apply for the Special Tourist Visa program. These foreigners will give much needed revenue to the economy, especially during the high season.
Guests should be given the chance to relax and unwind even during quarantine. They should be given access to wellness facilities, and food and beverage venues within the hotel. To prevent “super spreaders,” limitations can be introduced to keep the number of people low at any time and to make social distancing possible.
The government should expedite and make reopening of borders for foreign tourism a priority. Reopening the country at this time is very crucial, as it is traditionally the high season for tourism and the possible revenues are vital to keep the economy from collapsing.
The open letter also touched on the fact that trying to keep a low number of infections with the measures currently in place are having an undesired effect on the national economy.
Thailand’s strict 14-day quarantine period has been criticized by many in the private sector. Business operators are calling the measures under the Special Tourist Visa as overly strict, and can discourage tourists from returning and contributing to the ailing national economy.
Even a poll conducted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s London Office showed that only 6% of the 1,200 responders express agreement with the 14-day quarantine rule.