Private Hotels to Accommodate Medical Staff? A Near Possibility
Medical personnel have become the infantry in the fight against COVID-19 worldwide, making them the most vulnerable sector to contagion in every country where the virus has gone out of control. Mexico is no exception. According to data from the Ministry of Health, medical personnel now account for 15 percent of the country’s COVID-19 cases, which has placed the sector in a dire situation. The data is also worrying, since between April 14 and April 24, infection levels in the health sector increased by 261 percent. For this reason, both public and private sectors are negotiating an agreement to house medical personnel in hotels to avoid taking public transportation when travelling between hospitals and their homes.
However, negotiations being conducted by the government and hotel businessmen are ongoing, as Braulio Arsuaga, President of the National Tourism Business Council (CNET), explained to Aristegui Noticias. “No agreement has been signed as it has been reported in the press. We still have to clarify certain issues,” said Arsuaga.
The main obstacle that stands in the way of successful negotiations, according to Arsuaga, is the fee required by the hotel industry for each guest, which amounts to MX$700 per person a day. In addition, according to CNET, hygiene and safety measures in hotels must be highlighted. To date, spending continues in hotels despite that many have been forced to close temporarily or permanently. CNET announced on 16 March that 262 hotels in the country had been forced to close their doors, representing 52,400 beds and the loss of about 1.2 million jobs, if aerospace-related jobs are also taken into account.
Another measure being discussed by the representatives of the Ministry of Health and the CNET is the implementation of protocols inside hotels. These include the number of people working in them and isolation measures implemented to prevent contagion among the staff. For the time being, according to Arsuaga, 76 percent of the members would be willing to take the risk of turning their hotels into accommodation sites for medical personnel. In addition, the possibility of converting some hotels into temporary hospitals is also being studied so the Ministry of Health can assume the enormous demand for beds in some of the country’s cities, such as Tijuana or Mexico City, which have been the most affected by the expansion of COVID-19. The measure to convert hotels into hospitals was taken on March 19 by the government of Spain. When it did so, there were 13,716 cases of COVID-19 and 558 deaths.