GEORGE TOWN, Sept 2 — One hotel in Penang will be converted into a low-risk quarantine and treatment centre (PKRC), while three others in the state have also applied to be turned into either a PKRC or quarantine centre, said state executive councillor Yeoh Soon Hin (PH-Paya Terubong).
The Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman said Royale Chulan Penang will function as a PKRC from today (September 2) where a medical team will be on standby at the premises.
“As of September 1, my office has received one other hotel that is interested to be converted into a PKRC and two other hotels in Seberang Perai that have applied to be quarantine hotels,” he said during his winding-up speech at the state legislative assembly.
He said the applications have been sent to the state Health Department for further action.
He also said that he hopes the department will be able to speed up the process to resolve the shortage of quarantine centres in the state.
Earlier, state Health Committee chairman Norlela Ariffin said a total of 13 hotels had offered to be converted into PKRCs, but when they were informed of the strict criteria, only two decided to go ahead, while the rest withdrew their application.
Yeoh said many hotels are interested in being converted into PKRCs and quarantine hotels are an alternative to PKRCs for those who can afford to pay.
“However, many hotels can’t comply with the stringent criteria so they withdrew their application,” he said.
He said due to the high demand for more PKRCs and quarantine centres in the state, the state Health Department should discuss the compliance criteria with hotels.
“Maybe they can look at adjusting the criteria so that more hotels can be turned into alternative quarantine centres in the state,” he said.
He said his office has arranged for dialogue sessions between the state Health Department and Penang hoteliers where they can discuss the mechanism behind converting hotels to PKRCs, quarantine centres and close-contact quarantine centres along with other procedures.
On the topic of the creative economy, Yeoh said several initiatives have been introduced to prepare a platform and channels to assist the artists in the state such as Carry Cature (caricature) Corner and sand sculpture at Spice Arena.
“The state has also continuously encouraged artists and art groups to conduct programmes and activities online to adapt to the new norm of digitalisation,” he said.
He said the recovery period for the tourism and creative economy sector will take a few years and that the vaccination process is an important factor which will assist in recovery from the pandemic.
He said the reopening of the tourism and creative economy sector will be based on the Covid-19 situation in the state and in line with decisions by the National Security Council.
“With the international borders still closed, at this time, domestic tourism will still be the main focus,” he said.