Province thinking ahead by reaching out during coronavirus pandemic: Manitoba Hotel Association

Manitoba hotel rooms could be used by the province to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. File / Global News

Manitoba hotels have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, but a request from the Manitoba government could soon see their rooms filled.

The province has put out a request for supply arrangement for accommodations across Manitoba — which includes potentially using hotel rooms as self-isolation spaces, or even extensions of hospitals as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

Scott Jocelyn of the Manitoba Hotel Association told 680 CJOB the move is a good example of the province planning ahead and using an abundance of caution.

“About a week and a half ago I sent an email to the premier and to the minister of health explaining what we were seeing in other cities and other provinces, and that the hoteliers would be ready to do what they could do if that became the situation in Manitoba,” said Jocelyn.

“We reached out to all of our folks, we asked if they were ready. Hotels had the opportunity to put their names forward; we got some people.

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“Today the glorified headline might be ‘hotels as hospitals,’ but the range of people we might be dealing with prior to that are far less extreme. We may get to that, but I think it’s prudent that the province is exploring all avenues in case that becomes necessary.”

Manitoba Hotel Association CEO Scott Jocelyn. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

According to the province’s request, hoteliers will be able to submit a bid for their services from now until Sept. 1 for an arrangement that will be active up to Sept. 30 — and the government will evaluate and approve those applications on a weekly basis.

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Jocelyn said he has no doubt there will be a lot of local hoteliers who want to get involved. For one thing, he said, many hotels are seeing single-digit — if any at all — occupancy rates during this crisis.

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“I’m quite confident that because we have hotel membership in every community, that we’ll get people in every community standing up to do the right thing.”

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