The booking system for Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre will reopen Monday, October 4th, providing 200 more rooms for foreign domestic workers. This brings the total number of slots at the official quarantine facility to 1000, along with the 409 rooms at Silka Tsuen Wan hotel available to workers.
Room reservations for October 22-28 on the booking system will open starting at 9am on Monday. Slots will be made available every following Monday like this. That is, the following week on October 11th, booking will open for reservations for October 29 to November 4th. Slots have been made available for a week at a time instead of daily following feedback from FDH employment agencies.
The system can be navigated in 13 languages including Tagalog, Thai, Urdu, and Hindi. During the application process as well as during pre-entry into the government-run quarantine facility, workers must provide their passport copy, valid employment visa, and a recognised vaccination record.
Employment agencies have stated the move is drastically inadequate to fill the city’s shortage of foreign domestic helpers (FDH). With flights from Indonesia and the Philippines banned since early this year, SCMP reports there are six employers for every migrant worker. Households with young children and elderly family members are offering above the minimum wage to attract help.
A scheme announced in August allowed domestic helpers in the two high-risk countries to enter Hong Kong following flight bans and the non-acceptance of vaccination records. In early September, rooms were fully booked within minutes of the system opening.
A mandatory 21-day stay at the Penny’s Bay facility costs HK$10,080. The same length of stay costs HK$16,800 at Silka Tsuen Wan hotel, the other of the two quarantine facilities dedicated to housing FDH. With domestic helpers’ monthly salaries averaging in at HK$5,144, hotel reservations are normally paid in full by their employers.
Header image credits: International Domestic Workers Federation via Flickr