Hotel quarantine should upgrade
James Cook University investigators say hotel quarantine could be made a lot more bearable by listening to the experiences of people confined during Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Dr Denis Tolkach is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality Management at James Cook University. He said during the Covid-19 outbreak, many travellers had to quarantine upon arrival at their destination, often at designated hotels and usually for two weeks.
“Quarantine, as with any type of isolation, is often emotionally challenging. We wanted to explore guests' experiences during quarantine, how they did mentally and the coping strategies they developed,” said Dr Tolkach.
The researchers interviewed 16 people who had emerged from quarantine within the previous two days – ten were quarantined by themselves, one quarantined with her husband, and the remaining five participants were quarantined with their complete family or with children.
“Data from in‐depth interviews with quarantine hotel guests shows they experienced a rollercoaster of moods and emotions during their stay.
“Moving from uncertainty and anxiety at the start to isolation and boredom, even despair and depression, in the middle, and finally to relief and optimism as their stay came to an end,” said Dr Tolkach.
He said the study had some clear recommendations for those providing hotel quarantine.
“It confirmed the paramount importance of communication during crises. Clear and unambiguous instructions need to be provided concerning procedures on arrival, transit, and hotel stay. Fast and reliable Wi‐Fi is also essential for quarantined guests to stay in touch with friends and relatives online.”
He said some hotels provided their quarantined guests with board games and puzzles to help them pass the time. Structuring a day and dividing it into several blocks with different activities was also helpful.
“This was extremely important for quarantined guests with children. And for families, sufficient space is required to ensure guests are not crowded. Guests resorted to moving furniture around to create space. Access to a balcony or a courtyard for fresh air and ability to exercise were highly valued.”
“While the food was plentiful, some guests reported a lack of nutrition or sameness and were relieved when they could order their own food and have it delivered,” said Dr Tolkach.
He said overall, hotel design needs to be considered to ensure a hotel is suitable to host quarantined guests without adverse mental impacts.
“There is potential for future crises requiring similar measures. A further large-scale study using the findings of this research on quarantining at hotels is urgently required,” said Dr Tolkach.
Dr Denis Tolkach