A hotel in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district said Friday that it has evacuated all of its guests and will be closed for 14 days, after two former guests and four members of staff tested positive for Covid-19.

The Centre for Health Protection has said some of the infected staff were identified by collective testing at The Royal Garden Hotel.

Hotel industry groups have recently called for a cap on the number of guests allowed in hotel bedrooms, while photos on Instagram show several parties of more than a dozen have been held in guestrooms.

royal garden hotel

Health authorities ordered The Royal Garden to close until October 22, the hotel announced on its Facebook page and website, after at least six confirmed Covid-19 patients visited the hotel recently.

“[A] total of 4 members of staff are confirmed with Covid-19 and [the] male changing room is suspected to be the source of infection,” the hotel statement read. Two former guests of Thai nationality were the earliest patients connected to the hotel.

department of health staff  in PPE assisting at royal garden hotel covid

The Department of Health tested all employees, during which two restaurant staff members, one cafe employee and one mechanic tested positive, said Dr Chuang Shuk-Kwan of the Centre for Health Prevention, at a briefing Friday. Over 300 staff members were moved to quarantine facilities, the Apple Daily cited a police source as saying. The hotel is helping evacuated guests find rooms elsewhere.

In-room staycation parties

A search on Instagram showed guests held in-room parties at the Royal Garden, with more than a dozen people present on some occasions. While gatherings of more than four individuals in public places are currently banned, the measure does not extend to hotel guestrooms.

Four former hotel guests, who posted in-room party photos tagged with The Royal Garden as a location, told HKFP they had no symptoms of coronavirus and were not worried.

royal garden hotel staycation parties covid
Photo via Instgram.

One of them, Charles, posted photos of a party showing 14 people. “I only went there briefly to take photos with some friends who are emigrating. My friends picked the hotel for its convenient location,” he told HKFP, adding that he himself did not host the party. He said he has not had symptoms and was not aware of any friends who had.

“You can’t help but be worried, but I can only be more careful in the future and take precautions,” another former guest, Ms Leung, told HKFP. She visited the hotel twice recently, once for the buffet, another time for a gathering in a guestroom with nine people. “I will consider getting tested,” she said.

The Royal Garden Hotel offered attractive staycation packages for October and November, according to marketing materials online. The cheapest room cost about HK$1,200 per night, which includes an equivalent amount in dining credits, or a two-person buffet dinner. Another package offers a one-night stay and a four-course dinner for two at the hotel’s Italian restaurant Sabatini, for HK$1,580.

royal garden hotel staycation package 2020 covid
Photo: Internet.

Director of Health, Constance Chan Hon-Yee, has previously said the health department planned to meet hotel industry and tourism representatives to study possible restrictions on hotel room gatherings.

Michael Li, executive director of the Federation of Hotel Owners, told iCable News on Friday that some hotel guests would lock their rooms and ignore staff warnings. The federation recently advised hotels not to allow more than five guests per room, to register guests’ IDs and to patrol hotel hallways regularly.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.