People flying into Hong Kong from December 22 will be able to choose from one of 36 hotels to spend their 14 days of quarantine, the government said on Friday.
While anyone coming in from the mainland would be exempt, other people can choose from the designated list of hotels which will have no other guests other than people in isolation.
The Secretary for the Civil Service, Patrick Nip, said some 12,000 rooms are available, and 80 percent of them will cost less than HK$1,000 a night, with three meals per day included.
For anyone who wants to quarantine in style, the most expensive choice available is a suite at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong for HK$51,150 per night.
Nip said returnees will be sent directly to the hotel that they have booked after undergoing coronavirus tests at the airport. Hotel staff will also be tested for coronavirus every 14 days, and a special team will be assigned to supervise and patrol the hotels.
With places including the mainland and Macau having implemented such a quarantine measure months ago, Nip said officials have done their utmost to introduce it in Hong Kong as soon as possible.
"If you look back at the early stage of the epidemic, I think the hotel sector was pretty hesitant, or even reluctant, to use the hotels for quarantine purposes for understandable reasons. And then as things develop, we witness that more and more hotels are accepting quarantine guests," he said.
Nip added that the measure is not being implemented right now so that visitors, hotels and airlines can all make the necessary arrangements.
Responding to the announcement, Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien said the policy should be in place earlier.
Tien said one-third of the 12,000 hotel rooms can be ready in a week’s time, and should be used for quarantine starting next Friday, four days before December 22.
“You don’t need 36 hotels supplying 10,000 rooms all at the same time,” he told RTHK's Violet Wong.
“That is the peak of the peak, that period. My calculation is that during those four days there will be about 5,000 people coming back still using their own way of reaching their quarantine destination.”
He also said 12,000 hotel rooms are barely enough for a peak travel season like December, and said the government may end up having to come up with a second batch of designated hotels.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that hotels had been reluctant to help in the fight against Covid-19 until the national security law restored peace to the city after the social unrest.
"The hotel owners were very worried about supporting the government in anything, because then they would be harassed and intimidated, and doxxed and so and so," she said.
Last updated: 2020-12-11 HKT 18:46