Foreigners Lament Poor Services of Jakarta Quarantine Hotel

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Markus Wisnu Murti

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  • The condition of a quarantine hotel in Central Jakarta that is designated for foreign travelers who test positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in Indonesia. Photo: Special

    The condition of a quarantine hotel in Central Jakarta that is designated for foreign travelers who test positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in Indonesia. Photo: Special

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A European woman, RB, and her lady friend arrived in Indonesia during the last week of 2021 and underwent the mandatory international traveler's quarantine at a hotel in Central Jakarta designated for coronavirus isolation. However, elation turned 180 degrees to despair after they tested positive for COVID-19.

    On the same day, they were transferred to a coronavirus isolation hotel in the same area. However, a local health official told them they had to stay in separate individual rooms as they both arrived in Indonesia on different flights.

    However, as they arrived at the intended isolation hotel, they were offered a single room by hotel administrators at a cheaper price, which contradicted what they were informed regarding Indonesia's COVID-19 regulations. They both eventually agreed to take the offer after the hotel convinced them. 

    "Surely we picked the cheaper option and trusted their offer that we could both stay in one room," RB told Tempo last week.

    The isolation hotel administrators initially set a price of Rp14 million for 10-day hotel isolation in a room designated for one, and that the bill could be split with her friend if they stayed in one room. The payment, hotel workers said, could be made at the end of their isolation and once COVID-19 tests came out negative, and that they could check out afterwards.

    However, as RB and her friend eventually tested negative for coronavirus on the eleventh day of their stay, the hotel charged them Rp12.7 million each. RB also claimed they were not given official documents on regulations on hotel payments but the hotel insisted that the bills must be paid. 

    Between exhaustion and bewilderment, and not wanting to worsen the situation, RB and her friend paid the bills they were given as they were worried hotel administrators would further prolong their stay. 

    “Maybe I was too emotional to liken it to being taken as hostage, that was an exaggeration. But I was truly worried and uncomfortable during my stay there,” she said.

    Facilities offered by the hotel, she said, made the isolation hotel an uncomfortable place to stay and even dangerous. RB said the hotel room had toiletries that were far from decent, old furnitures, a bed sheet that had holes in it, and a smelly toilet. 

    She also said it was not uncommon for cats and rats to be seen around the patient rooms. She also feared other diseases that are transmittable through rodents and other wildlife.

    RB said medical staff that visited them on a daily basis would conduct a thorough health check without disinfecting the room and health equipment they brought, which she feared would only make disease transmission a larger possibility. 

    “Overall, the place was unsanitary,” said RB. ”For a place meant to accommodate COVID-19 patients, it should be much more sanitary.”

    Tempo found a similar complaint from a United States citizen identified as JJ, who started as soon as he set foot on Soekarno-Hatta Airport at the end of last year. He said two COVID-19 PCR tests he took in the States showed he was negative but turned positive in the test he took at the Indonesian airport. 

    JJ also recalled he had to sign a letter containing 10 points of agreements, one of which being that he had to agree to being exposed to Omicron. 

    “I refused to sign the letter because I may have tested positive for COVID-19, but it isn’t necessarily Omicron. I requested an independent retest, but they said such things are not practiced here,” said JJ.

    He was more surprised after one of the airport officials invited him to lunch and offered to ride the same vehicle as him. Fortunately, another official made him stay. JJ said he was taken to an isolation hotel instead of a hospital that he was promised. It was the same hotel as the one RB and her friend stayed at. 

    The room he ended up staying in was not better than the one RB stayed in. Broken showers up to water that stopped flowing caused him to demand a room change. However, despite being transferred to another room he felt unsafe to stay at the hotel. 

    Not only that, JJ claims one COVID-19 patient even held a New Year’s Eve party with the hotel liquor store remaining open and was free to be visited by hotel visitors. Not only were health protocols broken, the services provided by hotel workers were far from friendly. 

    “On the seventh day here, a young worker who delivered my food even refused to provide me with drinking water,” said JJ. 

    Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) Hotel Repatriation Coordinator Vivi Herlambang admitted that many complaints related to the poor services of this hotel had been filed. Therefore, as of last Saturday, January 8, 2022, PHRI as the coordinator for quarantine and isolation hotels in Indonesia, immediately suspended the hotel and barred them from receiving guests for a week.

    "I[The hotel] is suspended for a week, and can't receive guests. The problem is that there are indeed many complaints from guests. We also understand how the complaints are," said Vivi to Tempo.

    According to Vivi, she had doubted the service quality at the hotel. However, when Omicron was first detected in Indonesia in early December 2021, not a single hotel overseen by the PHRI was willing to become isolation hotels for confirmed COVID-19 patients.

    As the number of Omicron cases in Indonesia continues to grow, PHRI is increasingly pushed to look for more quarantine hotels. This specific hotel was eventually offered because it belongs to a local government.

    "I understand they are not as good as the quarantine hotels that I checked," said Vivi.

    Read: Arrivals from Omicron-hit Nations Subject to 10-day Quarantine

    EGI ADYATAMA