Hoteliers expressed quarantine payment should be uniform

Yangchen C Rinzin

The disposable food container that we discouraged people from using for environmental reason is the most wanted packaging material with hoteliers running out of it.

Hoteliers who have their property used as quarantine facilities serve packed food thrice a day besides tea and mineral water. Hotels provide food as per the menu the health ministry provided besides bottled water, tea or coffee in their rooms.

Without the packaging materials available in the local market and the border closed, they cannot restock. “We’re united to help but we need help too. We contacted some of our dealers in Jaigaon but it is not easy to get, as the borders are also sealed,” said a hotelier in Phuentsholing.

Hoteliers quickly said they were not complaining, but sharing a ground reality where they require help to sustain and meet such small, but crucial material to keep the facility running. “We’re also in need of basic toiletries to provide them everyday,” another hotelier said. “Business communities could come together and help or donate, as it’s important to provide only packed food.”

When the first Covid-19 case was detected, a few hotels came forward offering their property as quarantine facility to the government. However, as many Bhutanese started returning to Bhutan, more hotels are used as quarantine facility especially in Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Punakha, and Paro.


Hoteliers wait for payment

Although it has been reported that the Nu 1,000 a day per person is paid t the hotels, hoteliers, it was found, had not received the money as of now.

According to the contract signed between hoteliers and government, government would pay utility bills, internet charges and monthly salary of hotel staff involved the facility on the condition that hotels retain their total staff. However, it does not mention how much would be paid to the hoteliers.

“We’re not demanding for the payment, however, the situation on ground is different and it is crippling us, as we need to buy vegetables and meet other expenses,” a hotel owner said. “The payment has not been finalised yet, no hotel has been paid as of now and we need to pay salary too.”

Many shared that payment should be uniform for all the hotels irrespective of dzongkhags, as they are providing the same services of running the facility.

Many said they are using their own resources and vegetable stocks or supplies to cook food and are now running out of vegetables, as the borders are sealed.

“There is a need of standardised directives on the payment and we’re only requesting for assurance, as we have to keep running,” said a Paro hotelier. “We’re encouraged to help government and to retain staff, we need income.”

Cabinet Secretary, Sangay Duba said that government is well aware of the dire need of packaging materials including vegetables and already working on the modality.

The newly appointed Secretary said that with the sudden announcement of India’s lockdown, there is a need to prepare a mechanism to bring in goods. “We are already working on making use of available local materials from Sarpang.

On the payment, although some of the hotels volunteered, the government has decided to pay all the hotels.

It was decided that a budget hotel will be offered Nu 1,000 per head (bed) and Nu 1,500 for two beds or more, which is inclusive of all charges. Three-star hotels will be offered Nu 1,200 per bed and Nu 2,000 for two beds or more.

Cabinet Secretary said that government would definitely pay and there are quarantine focal appointed in every dzongkhags and they can submit their bill and claim the payment.

“The finance ministry will release the money but no one has submitted the bill,” Cabinet Secretary said. “We’re waiting for the bills.”