Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing

Twenty-two hotels in Phuentsholing have volunteered to offer their facilities as quarantine centres for Covid-19.

These hotels are the members of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan (HRAB).

The HRAB representative of Chukha, Jigme Tshering, who is also the owner of Park Hotel in the town, said a total of 548 beds were kept at the ready.

“Most hotels are giving all rooms for free. A few are charging minimal fees.”

Officials from the response team are also given rooms. However, they maintain distance and stay separately from those quarantined.

Hotels are charging for the meals. Nu 600 is being charged for three meals per day, which includes evening snack and bottled drinking water.

As of yesterday evening, seven hotels were occupied. Hotels are given sequence numbers so that they can prepare prior to their turn.

The manager of Bhutan Residence, Tshering Tshogyal, said that the hotel had started receiving people since March 19. Bhutan Residence has 47 beds. “We are also charging Nu 600 for the meals.”

Tshering Tshogyal said that the government needed support at this time. Phuentsholing shares a porous border with Jaigaon and so the risks were higher, she added.

The proprietor of Hotel Palm, KN Katel, said it was time for the community and people help the government fight Covid-19. “This is the right moment to help in whatever ways.”

Hotel Palm has also started quarantining people from yesterday.

Meanwhile, Jigme Tshering said that hotel business was going through a difficult time. “We have to pay EMIs. We have the overhead costs and staff had to be also retained. Some hotels have to pay monthly rent.”

Jigme Tshering said that the hoteliers had volunteered for about three months but the duration could get extended depending on the country’s need, adding that people could also contribute in their small ways.

“Small things like bottled drinking water and toiletries would make a huge difference,” he said.

Although the health staff and officials were professional when dealing with people before quarantining them, Jigme Tshering said that hoteliers should handle people carefully. “Most of them are young students and they could be traumatised.”

With the Covid-19 positive cases confirmed in Kolkata, vigilance has heightened in Phuentsholing. As of yesterday, the response team quarantined more than 300 people.