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Labour Secretary says HK may allot more quarantine places to FDH

15 October 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Law (with blue tie) meets with agencies and employers on the shortage of quarantine rooms 

Labour and Welfare Secretary Law Chi-kwong has announced that Hong Kong may provide more quarantine facilities for thousands of foreign domestic helpers stranded in their home countries as the number of those found infected on arrival has dropped.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion with employment agencies and employers Friday, Law said the daily quota at Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre stands at 50, but only an average of 45 helpers arrived each day this month.

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He said the number of available rooms at the facility will be increased from 800 to 1,000 from next Friday.

However, he did not give a time frame on when more quarantine places will be designated for the helpers, saying only that this will be done when the time is ripe.


He also dismissed suggestions that admission to the existing quarantine facilities be based on when the helpers obtained their employment visas, or through a lottery.

"We have thought of these measures, but they might cause even more delays and result in fewer helpers coming... These procedures are very complicated. Some people may wait for a visa for a month or two, but others may wait for nine months. And using this method may cause even more grievances," Law said.


"Drawing lots will complicate the process as well, as the question of when helpers can arrive has nothing to do with a lottery."

Many employers and agencies have complained about the difficulty of booking a room at either Penny’s Bay or Silka Tsuen Wan hotel, the only designated quarantine facilities for FDHs who were vaccinated in their home countries.

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All 400-odd rooms at Silka have been booked until the end of the month, while all of the weekly allotments of 350 rooms at Penny’s Bay are snapped up within minutes of the booking site being opened at 9am every Monday.

Law says booking of quarantine places cannot be tied to when visas were issued

One agency manager told The SUN she started queuing up for the rooms at about 5am the past two Mondays, but as soon as the “start booking” button on the site turned blue at 9am, she was put on hold, which meant other people had been in line earlier than she was.

Siguro yung iba pumipila ng mga 3am pa lang,” she said. (Maybe the others would queue up as early as 3am).

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She said she has been trying to book for six FDHs who are stuck in the Philippines with visas that were approved months ago, but has had no luck so far. One of the employers eventually gave up waiting, and asked the agency to just look for someone who is already in Hong Kong.

The high cost of the 21-day quarantine also poses a challenge to most employers now, according to her. Despite efforts to keep costs down, she said her agency still charges employers a total of $40,000 to cover expenses for recruitment, tests and quarantine.

Despite his assurance that more quarantine facilities will be allotted to the helpers, Law said the government still has to tread carefully on the issue, citing the cases of two Indonesian helpers who were found infected after completing their quarantine.
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