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No scientific basis for separate quarantine for FDWs, protesters say

05 September 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Balladares and Sringatin say HK should let employers choose FDWs' quarantine hotels 

Protesters have hit out at the Hong Kong government for what they called its discriminatory policy of designating a quarantine hotel for newly arrived foreign domestic workers.

Leaders of the biggest umbrella organization  of FDWs took to Chater Road in Central today, Sept. 5, to stage a socially-distanced protest rally against the government’s decision to order that all incoming migrant workers must spend their quarantine at Silka Tsuen Wan hotel.

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One of the protesters, Sringatin, said there is no scientific basis for the order, which she said, also abets the wrong notion that FDWs are variant carriers.

“We understand the need for us to stay in quarantine, but there is no scientific basis for segregating foreign domestic workers,” said Sringatin, who is the Indonesian spokesperson of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body.


Further, she said the segregation only “creates unnecessary tension between locals and FDWs” as it reinforces discriminatory beliefs.

Another speaker, Dolores Balladares, said, “We at AMCB think that designating a hotel for FDWs is discriminatory. Why not allow employers to choose from among 36 quarantine hotels where they want their helpers to stay?”


Balladares said the reason for requiring all FDWs to spend their quarantine in just one hotel should be made clear.

“The rationale should be clear and it should not violate the rights of employers and workers,” she said.

She also questioned the high cost of a 21-day quarantine at Silka Tsuen Wan, the only designated hotel for arriving FDWs who were vaccinated in either the Philippines or Indonesia.


She said the $800-per-day charge at Silka is unreasonable, as it is double what the hotel used to charge before it was given the monopoly to quarantine incoming FDWs.

Further, she said the hotel, with just over 400 available rooms, cannot possibly take in the thousands of FDWs who have been waiting for months to come to Hong Kong.

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Even with the additional 800 rooms to be allocated to FDWs at Penny’s Bay quarantine centre, she said it would take months before the workers could all come in.

Police keep a close eye on the mini-protest

In the meantime, she said the workers continue to spend money while waiting to get the  green light to come to Hong Kong.

Those in the Philippines, she said, have been stuck in the country since Hong Kong imposed a ban on passenger flights from there on Apr 20.

Asked if she thought the two-week flight suspension on two Philippine carriers which recently brought in a number of infected travelers would further disrupt travel plans of FDWs, Balladares said it already has.

She said her group, United Filipinos in Hong Kong, staged a separate protest earlier in the day, calling on the Philippine government to give better protection to its stranded travelers.

The call includes tightening anti-pandemic measures to ensure the quality of Covid testing given to people, especially those who go abroad for work.

“We hope the testing is improved so next time there will no longer be workers who will test positive when they arrive in Hong Kong,” Balladares said.

Both AMCB leaders also called for setting up a complaint mechanism to ensure employers comply with their obligation to pay for their workers' hotel quarantine.

According to Balladares, at least one case has been reported to them of a migrant worker being made to repay her employer for the cost of the quarantine.

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