COVID-19 vaccinations rolled out to workers in hotel industry, ‘critical pillar’ of economy

SINGAPORE: COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out to workers in the hotel industry, which Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan has described as a “critical pillar” of Singapore’s economy.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday (Jan 28), Mr Tan said that as of Jan 25, about 3,000 hotel workers have been vaccinated. 

Of these, 2,000 work in hotels designated as stay-home notice facilities. More than 70 hotels have served as such facilities at various points since March 2020.

“The hotel industry, the tourism industry, they’re critical pillars of our economy, and so are obviously the workers. And so they’re effectively the frontline,” said Mr Tan. 

MOS for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan speaking to hotel staff COVID-19 vaccination session

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan speaking to hotel staff on Jan 28, 2021. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

“(The vaccination) gives confidence to our frontline staff. It also gives confidence to people who are working in these stay-home designated facilities, those people that are coming back from overseas, but then also those that are on staycations,” he added.

“These are where there’s exposure, and you want to make sure that you protect your frontline, and the vaccination does exactly that.”

On Jan 5, Minister for Education Lawrence Wong announced that all hotel staff in contact with people serving stay-home notice would be placed on a rostered routine testing regime and be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks.

When asked whether the hotel workers would continue to go through the routine testing, Mr Tan said testing will continue to be another pillar of Singapore’s defence against COVID-19, alongside contact tracing, vaccination and safe management measures.

All hotel employees are eligible for vaccination, said Mr Tan.

“The purpose of us being here today is to encourage all of our frontline staff, especially frontline in the hotel – you have your bellhops … frontline registration counters, but then also the back end, our housekeeping, our kitchen staff. All of them are eligible,” he said.

“We want to do that because we want to protect them because they are at the frontlines. It is also a critical area which we want to safeguard and it’s a critical journey towards reopening our economy and our tourism sector.”

READ: COVID-19 vaccination begins for land transport sector with jabs to be offered to 80,000 workers

READ: More than 10,000 frontline maritime workers to be vaccinated by end-January: MPA

President of the Singapore Hotel Association Kwee Wei-Lin said the association hopes that the vaccination will “help bring back some normalcy” to the hotel industry. 

Other than employees of hotels designated as stay-home facilities, workers from other hotels also come into contact with travellers coming in via the reciprocal green lane and air travel lane, said Ms Kwee. 

“We do hope that the vaccinations will bring back some confidence for our staff, their wellbeing, their families, as well as also international travellers when they do come back,” she said, adding that international travellers made up 90 per cent of hotel guests before the pandemic.

“Right now … quite a large number of (our hotels) are SHN facilities, so it is very important that our staff as frontliners are protected as well.”

hotel staff receive COVID-19 vaccination at Raffles City Convention Centre

Mr Edward Chew, a butler at Shangri-La Singapore, receiving his COVID-19 vaccination at Raffles City Convention Centre on Jan 28, 2021. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

One hotel worker who received the first dose of the vaccination on Thursday was 23-year-old Aziana Aziman. She works the front desk at Pan Pacific Singapore and facing a lot of guests each day compelled her to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

“I decided to (do it) for them as well as for me. To show that I’m vaccinated and it’s all right, I’m okay and I’m still serving (the guests),” she said.

Mr Edward Chew, a butler at Shangri-La Singapore, also received his vaccination on Thursday.

“My job is actually like a roving ambassador, I interact with all our guests. I suppose … I would be exposed to the virus. (The vaccination) will definitely make me feel more comfortable in engaging with my guests. And for them too, when they know that I have been vaccinated, there is this protection there to help us out,” said the 67-year-old.

“Without the vaccination things can go south at any time. With this vaccination you can just feel more comfortable and reassured.”