Two Kwai Tsing district councillors on Wednesday urged the government to rethink its plan to quarantine returnees from the UK at a Tsing Yi hotel, saying nearby residents are worried about the possible spread of Covid-19 variants.
The Rambler Garden Hotel, which is situated within the Rambler Crest private housing estate, will from Thursday house Hongkongers returning from the UK on two chartered flights – one departing for Hong Kong on Wednesday and another on April 28.
They will have to stay at the hotel for 21 days, and be tested for coronavirus during that period.
District councillors Daniel Kwok and Nicholas Hon said residents living near the designated hotel had become more concerned about the situation after a man with the South African coronavirus variant was found in the community following 21 days of hotel quarantine.
People are scared that cross-infections may happen in the hotel among UK returnees and hotel staff, and that people with long incubation periods may bring the mutated strain into the community, they said at a press conference held less than day before the first flight of UK returnees was due to touch down at Chek Lap Kok.
"We don't know the details of the virus, and some residents told me that they are afraid of the virus. I think the government should change the quarantine place to Penny's Bay [quarantine centre],” Kwok said.
“If they don't want to change the hotel, I think the government must provide some special buses to take people away when they finish the quarantine.”
But some residents and people who work nearby told RTHK that they are not too worried about the arrangement.
They noted that the hotel has been in use since last October to house inbound travellers whose Covid-19 test results are not ready on the day of their arrival.
"I am not concerned. I have had two Pfizer [BioNTech] jabs. I would assume that they would work the quarantine properly as they have already done. People who keep away from that hotel would not have a problem. I already walked past it," a man who lives in the Rambler Crest zone said.
"I'm not very worried because they are doing quarantine in their hotel rooms, so they would not leave their rooms," said a woman who works nearby.
She added that 21 days of quarantine should be long enough to detect potential infections.
Back in October, residents of Rambler Crest had voiced opposition and staged protests when health authorities decided to use the Rambler Garden hotel for quarantine, with some households sticking banners on their windows to express their discontent.