THE hotel and catering industry is poised for a restart following government’s licensing of private quarantine facilities countrywide, particularly targeting self-sponsoring returnees, the NewsDay can exclusively reveal.
BY REX MPHISA
The development also comes as a relief to the Zimbabwean government amid an outcry as its under-resourced isolation facilities struggle with returnees already in the country.
Strict hygiene and security measures top the long list of licensing prerequisites for potential players to be certified by authorities on security, health, hotel and catering.
In an interview on Thursday the director of environmental health in the Health ministry Victor Nyamandi said about 26 applications for private quarantine facilities had to date been received from Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
More were expected from other parts of the country as the Health ministry extended the new product to all provinces. This development could signal the rise of the hotel and tourism industry from the COVID-19-induced slumber.
“We have started processing licences for private quarantines and these are from operators registered by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. Premises to be approved should meet strict health and security requirements that will be certified by government arms handling security and health,” Nyamandi said.
“Business premises to be licensed must have adequate water supplies, self-contained rooms for occupants who should be in their confinement with individual or separate toilet facilities, well-ventilated, well-lit, proper interior and exterior security, among several other strict requirements,” Nyamandi said.
The facility should also have accommodation for government security personnel on deployment and should not carry out any other business that is not quarantine related, he added.
“All workers and guests at these premises should have exclusive use of their personal protective equipment which should not be shared,” Nyamandi said.
The centres must maintain registers of guests and their destinations after the quarantine period.
These guests are expected to fund their tests for COVID-19 after the quarantine period.
A private coronavirus test ranges from US$25 to $100. The private quarantines are as a result of inquiries from Zimbabweans wishing to return home from the world over but do not have faith in poorly-resourced government-run facilities.
Centres such as Belvedere Teachers College are under-resourced, with inmates living in deplorable conditions.
The first group of returnees housed at Belvedere requested hotel accommodation at government’s expense which was then said to be out of reach for the broke administration that has failed to cushion millions of starving citizens, mostly in urban areas.
“We are not interfering with their pricing, but as we move forward we are going to license more low-cost facilities to give returnees a wider choice. We should bear in mind that these returnees are citizens of the country like us and we cannot deny them choice,” Nyamandi said.
A Zimbabwean based in the United States, Kennias Chikerema said he had already booked for accommodation with one of the first three hotels to be registered.
“They have a variety of packages but I am worried about what is quoted as an amount for COVID-19 tests, I think is way too high,” he said.
The test was quoted at US$90.