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MAH clarifies: Hotels listed as essential services but cannot operate as normal

PETALING JAYA (March 18): In a bid to contain COVID-19, President of Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Kamaruddin Baharin advises hotel operators to limit the movement of people in line with the Restricted Movement Control order until March 31.

The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 gazetted today has included hotels and accommodation into the list of essential services. The new regulation is applicable starting today (March 18, 2020) until March 31, 2020.

The association said in a press statement that this does not mean that hotels are allowed to operate as usual, as the movement control order still applies and conditions are as discussed between the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) with MAH.

Hoteliers are to limit its services to only guests who had already checked-in into the hotel before March 18, 2020, while food and beverages services are to be limited to room service only. All other facilities and services of the hotel should remain closed.

Hotels are also allowed to keep bare minimum staff on premises during the movement control period for critical needs.

“We are aware that many are confused with the situation and the directives from the government given such short notice to prepare, but our advice is to look at the bigger picture and focus on containing the spread before the situation gets worse. We should all do our part to stop people from moving unnecessarily at times like this,” Kamaruddin said.

As per MOTAC's advice, MAH has provided a FAQ on the Movement Control Order for hotel operators (updated as at March 18, 2020, 12.30pm):

Q1: Are hotels/residences to remain open?

As at 12.12pm March 18, 2020, the National Security Council had issued a statement detailing the allowed services for hotels and accommodation listed as “essential services”, in which hotels are allowed to operate its rooms but guests are to remain in the room at all times throughout the movement control period (March 18 to 31, 2020).

However hotels are to observe Item 5(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Regulations 2020, under Section: Essential Services to keep the number of personnel and patrons to the minimum.

Q2: If opened, do we still allow domestic guests?

Under the Movement Control Order, movements within the country are to be restricted to the purposes of essential needs or healthcare.

Q3: What about other services of the hotel?

Only F&B service is allowed, and is restricted to room service only.

Q4: What should hotels/residences do with in-house guests?

In-house guests are to remain in the room throughout the movement control period.

Q5: What should hotels/residences do with long-stay guests?

Guests are to remain in the room throughout the movement control period.

Q6: What should hotels do with contracted guests, such as airline crew, oil & gas crew etc?

Critical workers and individuals of essential services such as transportation, oil and gas industry, are allowed and are to remain in the room throughout the movement control period.

Q7: What should hotels do with wellness/recovering guests on healthcare?

Individuals involved or in need of essential services such as healthcare, are allowed and are to remain in the room throughout the movement control period, other than for purposes of seeking treatments.

Q8: Should employees be considered as unpaid or paid?

As per Employment Act 1955.

Q9: What is meant by minimal/skeleton staffing on premises even if it is closed?

Only staff needed for critical operations are allowed on premises, such as security, housekeeping, finance, minimal front-liner and kitchen.

Q10: Any assistance to guests checking out unable to leave the country?

To be referred to respective embassies or the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

Q11: Hotels and accommodations are listed as essential services under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Regulations 2020, does that mean hotels can operate as usual?

No. The regulation allows hotels to remain open, but operations are to be limited as above.

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