The government says it will only subsidise hotel charges for quarantine purposes for up to RM150 a room, following criticism that it is practising double standards by placing some Covid-19 suspects in five-star hotels.
Some Malaysians have reported that the quality of quarantine centres ranged from community halls for vagrants, dilapidated civil service housing quarters and posh hotels.
Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said there was no preferential treatment in the choice of quarantine accommodations. They who want better accommodations would have to pay for them themselves.
Ismail said the government limits the budget for accommodation and food to RM150 per day and other expenses such as laundry will be borne by the individual concerned.
Ismail said the 45 hotels listed yesterday included three-star hotels costing about RM150 a day.
“If there are individuals who want to stay in four- or five- star hotels, they can, but with the condition that they pay their own,” he told reporters today.
But he said people cannot choose any hotel they want.
“There is SOP to follow. They cannot leave the room or visit anyone,” he said.
He said the authorities listed the hotels to make it easier to monitor them.
“Otherwise, imagine five people in Petaling Jaya and another five in another hotel. It would be difficult to monitor,” he said.
Ismail said the government thanked the participating hotels because RM150 for board and lodging was a very low rate.
He also explained why certain four- and five-star hotels are gazetted as quarantine centres.
“When we enforced the compulsory quarantine, it was to be adhered by Malaysians returning from abroad and foreigners, such as ambassadors and diplomats entering the country.
“Embassies have approached us to allow their representatives to be quarantined at hotels and will bear the full cost of stay for their diplomats.
“That is why we have gazetted certain hotels as quarantine centres,” he said.
For Malaysians who want to stay at five-star hotels during their quarantine period, they will have to fully bear the expenses, he added.
Effective April 3, Malaysians returning from abroad and foreigners who are permitted to enter the country will be placed under a 14-day quarantine.
There are currently 7,500 people in 122 quarantine centres nationwide.
The government has listed 554 centres nationwide to place 40,000 Malaysians under quarantine if the need arises.