Hotel workers must be prioritised for vaccine

Some hotel employees in certain states have received vaccinations, but most have not, says MAH CEO

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic by TMR FILE

HOSPITALITY frontliners should be prioritised in the vaccination programme to get the industry back on track and give it a glimmer of hope to survive.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) CEO Yap Lip Seng said some hotel employees in certain states have received vaccinations, but most have not.

“MAH coordinated the registration of hotel employees for vaccines and submitted almost 35,000 names back in March 2021.

“We are still waiting for further instructions from the government,” he said to The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently, adding that it is important for the country to procure more vaccines soon because it is highly unlikely Malaysia will achieve herd immunity at the rate it is going now.

According to Yap, the government has not announced any initiatives to assist and support the hospitality industry, other than the ones that were already in the works before the third Movement Control Order (MCO 3.0).

He said it is unfortunate that MCO 3.0 began just as Malaysians were preparing to celebrate Aidilfitri, causing massive losses for the industry, particularly for the food and beverage (F&B) outlets within the hotels.

Yap said the F&B sector alone lost RM135 million during Ramadhan last year.

“The hotel industry lost an estimated value of RM6.5 billion in revenue for 2020 and for every two weeks of MCO, it loses another RM300 million.

“This year, hotels could not serve their buffet for breaking fast. The blanket ban on dine-in left hotels in a predicament with only days to reorganise what was planned for the entire month. We had to then give away food and supplies to the needy,” he said.

With impacts from the initial MCO still being felt, Yap said many hotels have been forced to shut their doors for good due to the inability to sustain with no or very little business.

“The industry does not know how long this situation will last, and after suffering losses for over a year, it cannot sustain indefinitely with no avenues whatsoever even to survive on its own. We have seen similar situations in other countries, but the governments there provide compensation to businesses for losses due to the inability to operate, in accordance to either business hours affected or volume, whichever applicable,” he said.

In line with that, Yap said the industry is willing to impose even stricter standard operating procedures such as lower capacity limit or two per table for dine-ins, increased screening and even mandatory testing during guest check-ins.

“Government needs to consider these options before imposing blanket bans, to allow the industry to at least survive on its own.

“Looking at the deteriorating situation that will likely be extended, Malaysia needs to plan ahead with a systematic subsidy system for businesses affected by the MCO,” he said.

Meanwhile, Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur said while most staff are still waiting for appointment dates for vaccination, some have received their first doses.

The hotel said it adapted well this time around, particularly when it came to the supply of food meant for the Ramadhan buffet.

It began offering food deliveries and takeaway services, while hotel guests ordered meals through its platform.

“Of course, having meals on the property versus at home may be different, but at least through the delivery service, our guests were able to enjoy their favourite meals from our hotel. Our food supply went towards this initiative,” it told TMR.

The hotel also said during these trying times, it focuses on providing genuine care for its guests on the property.

“The hotel has launched an enhanced global health and safety programme called Lead with Care where upon arrival, there are strict procedures to follow and masks are mandatory,” it said on its website.