SINGAPORE – Imagine paying S$2000, only to be confined to a room for 14 days, and not allowed to step foot out of the space under any circumstances. That is how a 14-day hotel quarantine in Singapore works for returning citizens and visitors.
While Singapore opens up to more visitors with varied rules on quarantine, Yahoo Lifestyle SEA understands from two returning residents on their 14-day quarantine circumstances and what they had prepared to pass the time.
Returning from Paris, Charmaine Siew had her 14-day quarantine done at Hilton Singapore. Siew was supposed to return in April to apply for a working visa but realised that she was unable to proceed due to COVID-19.
“As such, I was also unable to continue being employed by my then employer,” Siew shared. With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, she returned in August when her visa expired, serving her quarantine upon arrival.
While each hotel has their specific ways of handling the quarantine, it is fundamentally similar - staying in the room for the entire duration and having minimal contact between hotel staff and quarantined individuals.
“Basically, you are being confined in a hotel room for 14 days. A chair is placed in front of your door for non-contact deliveries. Three meals are provided a day, and you can place your meal orders through an online ordering site. We are not allowed to leave our room at all. Room cleaning services were not provided, but fresh towels were provided every three days. Fresh linen was also provided every seven days.”
Once Siew reaches Singapore, she came prepared. “I occupied myself with television programs and mobile games and was also prepared with embroidery kits to help me pass some time.”
Instead of concentrating on her discomfort, Siew was more concerned for the staff that were doing the swab tests for the quarantined residents.
“I had my swab test done on the balcony of the hotel’s function room on a rather warm day. The swabbers were dressed in PPE, face mask with a face shield and I felt so sorry for them because they were sweating so much. I feel extremely grateful for their services!”
For Welsh-born British citizen Wyn James, however, quarantine is very much different and wackier than most who had to serve their 14-day hotel quarantine. Stuck in the UK since the middle of March, he had sent in 25 applications before he could return to Singapore.
“The first week I was in the So Sofitel Hotel near Lau Pa Sat, but I then got moved to a bigger room with a balcony at the Regent Hotel. I had a shoulder reconstruction surgery a few years ago due to a rugby injury, so if I stay in an aircon environment, it causes a lot of pain.”
Wanted to keep fit despite being confined to his hotel room, James measured a 7.5 metres track from one corner of his room, around the bed and to the door. “I figured if I ran that 400 times in a day, it will be 3km. If I did that for 14 days, it would be a 42km marathon.”
If this was not unconventional enough, James went the extra mile and decided to do it for a good cause - raising money on JustGiving platform for the LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity.
“I’d try and turn what is a pretty miserable experience into a positive one so I thought it would help me stay disciplined if I did it for a good cause. The charity I chose is community funded and has helped some good friends of ours whose 8-year-old son has been suffering for three years.”
More than just a run in the hotel room, James soon took to dressing up in various costumes and funny looks made up of things, such as lampshades, linen, and showerheads, found in his hotel room.
“A friend of mine had sent me some food in a Union Jack M&S bag. I thought that could be a Spice Girl outfit and that was how it started. It soon went a bit viral. People liked the fact it was fun and entertaining,” James shared. Others who are stuck in quarantine like he was had reached out, letting him know that his videos had helped keep their spirits up.
James fundraiser was a success, raising S$23,568 (£13,097), nearly £4,200 more than his £8,888 target.
“I ended up enjoying something pretty tough. It also gave me a positive experience around human nature. People I didn’t know were sending me messages and sending money for what was a lovely cause. Always look on the positive side. This virus situation will pass, and hopefully, we will all remember the lessons learnt.”
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