A total of 4,087 people had to quarantine in designated hotel facilities since the end of June, according to a Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) spokesperson.
This forced hotel quarantine of travellers, even if they are Malta residents, returning from ‘dark red’ countries has drawn criticism from various quarters recently.
The MTA spokesperson did not divulge how much money has so far been generated from forced quarantine when asked by Times of Malta.
“The MTA pays for the occupancy of the hotels in full, from which the amount paid by guests is deducted,” he said, dodging requests for a figure.
A conservative estimate, assuming three people shared a room, shows that the practice could have generated up to €1,907,266 since June 24.
The total cost of the 14-day quarantine, around €1,400 per room, has been criticised by many as exorbitant and unfair given the unsanitary and ‘prisonlike’ conditions of the rooms.
A search on booking.com for prices at the government-approved hotels – 3-star Sliema Hotel, Azur Hotel and 4-star Corinthia Marina – reveals prices to be cheaper than the cost of undergoing quarantine there.
For one person a night, prices range from €51 at Sliema Hotel to €66 at Azur Hotel and €91 at Corinthia Marina, while the cost to quarantine at these hotels charged by the authorities is €100 a room.
Asked for a breakdown of the costs incurred to run mandatory quarantine, the MTA spokesman said: “The fees paid are just to cover the expenses incurred.
”On Monday, three family members, forced to quarantine for 14 days at a hotel upon their return to the island from a ‘dark red’ destination, filed a judicial protest, saying such a “draconian” measure by the superintendent of public health had breached their fundamental rights.
To add insult to injury, some have said they have been forced to share rooms with strangers against their will, claims which the MTA denies. Mandatory hotel quarantine has come under scrutiny recently due to rules forcing people returning from ‘dark red’ countries to undergo quarantine at a government approved hotel, irrespective of whether they are vaccinated against COVID or not.
The rules relating to travel from dark red countries came into place in July 14 and a staggering 155 countries are currently on the list.
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