Helpers' isolation center picked clean of quotas

Top News | Maisy Mok 15 Sep 2021

All quotas for the first month at Penny's Bay Quarantine Center on Lantau Island for foreign domestic helpers to complete their compulsory isolation were fully booked in just five minutes, says Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association chairman Cheung Kit-man.

Online bookings for room reservations from September 20 to October 19 started at 9am yesterday through a Labor Department portal.

The quarantine center will provide 50 places per day, a measure for helpers to come to Hong Kong gradually to minimize Covid risks.

A total of 800 units in phases 1 and 2 of the center will be open for quarantine from Monday and are available for foreign domestic helpers who have been fully vaccinated in 10 countries - Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

Cheung criticized the insufficient quarantine facilities for foreign domestic helpers and said he hopes the government can open up other phases in Penny's Bay.

"If not, the remaining 6,000 to 7,000 people who are waiting to come to Hong Kong will not be able to arrive," he said. "Based on the current capacity some helpers will have to wait for a year to come to Hong Kong."

He added his company has 400 clients but his staff was only able to secure several rooms and confirmation takes 48 hours.

Online users who failed to get quarantine rooms mocked that making a booking is "harder than purchasing a concert ticket for Hong Kong cantopop boy band Mirror."

A room at the center costs HK$480 a night, including meals. Quarantine for 21 days will cost HK$10,080.

The website for the booking system says the next round of reservations from October 20 will begin on Friday.

The system will only show the rooms available for booking in the coming 30 days.

The booking website says the basic facilities in the quarantine center will include a bed, quilt, pillow, wardrobe, portable electric water boiler, air-conditioner and gas water heater.

The helpers will be provided with a 50GB local mobile data card, a basic necessities pack, a personal toiletries pack and a welcoming pack upon arrival.

Silka Tsuen Wan, another designated quarantine facility for helpers, has been fully booked until November despite charging HK$800 a night.

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