Malaysia to House Migrant Workers in Hotels to Curb Virus Spread

Malaysia’s government has kicked off a plan to temporarily house migrant workers in near-empty hotels across the nation to tackle the worsening spread of Covid-19 cases due to workplace clusters.

Malaysia’s Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that the program will help curb the virus outbreak and indirectly assist hotel operators hurt by the pandemic.

“The initiative is the best alternative at the moment,” the ministry said. The plan is a collaboration between the ministry and the Department of Manpower of the Ministry of Human Resources, it said.

Overcrowded conditions in employee dormitories have been a key source of infections, spurring record cases and pressuring Malaysia’s health system. The nation has more than 1.5 million documented migrant workers, 91% of whom live in accommodation that doesn’t meet minimum housing standards, according to the Ministry of Human Resources.

The government’s plan also provides a lifeline for the tourism industry. More than 100 hotels have closed since the outbreak began almost a year ago, according to a Feb. 5 statement by the Malaysian Association of Hotels.

A recent video of a hotel manager selling the hotel’s food by the roadside in a popular hawker area is an example of many who have resorted to scaling down to cover expenses and employees’ payroll, the association said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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