Using idle theme park hotels as quarantine centers

February 07, 2020 10:40
Using closed resort hotels as quarantine centers will solve a problem for the government and also help generate income for the theme park operators, the author says. Photo: Disneyland

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam has announced that all travelers entering Hong Kong from mainland China, including Hong Kong residents, will be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine from February 8. Authorities are, however, yet to disclose details on how the quarantine would be enforced.

The government has shut down 10 major land and sea checkpoints in recent weeks to curb cross-border traffic. Still, on Tuesday alone, 28,000 travelers arrived in the city via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and Shenzhen Bay Port. Another 41,000 travelers came from China via the airport.

Meanwhile, it's roughly estimated that more than 100,000 Hong Kong residents are still in the mainland, and around 10,000 mainlanders get back to Hong Kong on an average day.

Given this, enforcing quarantine for all these people for 14 days after the measure takes effect over the weekend would pose great challenges in terms of human resources and facilities.

Had the government taken early action, the current dilemmas could have been avoided.

Former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen has suggested that the government use hotels at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and part of the People’s Liberation Army’s Shek Kong Barracks in Yuen Long as quarantine centers.

Hong Kong Disneyland resort has been closed since January 26 due to the coronavirus scare. Given the lack of suitable locations, using the idle hotels in the resort as quarantine centers would not be a bad idea. Also, such move can generate some income for the theme park to offset its operating losses.

Meanwhile, authorities can also look at Ocean Park, which, too, has suspended operation from January 26. The theme park has a hotel with nearly 500 rooms, which could be utilized for quarantine operations.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 6

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RC

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist