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Okinawa nixes hotel plan for flu patients

Date Posted: 2009-09-04

Only a week after saying it would consider renting hotel rooms to people with influenza, the Okinawa Prefecture Hotel and Ryokan Environment Sanitation Association reversed course and said ‘no’.

The association, collaborating with the Prefecture Hotel Basic Services Association, had first decided it could fill hundreds of hotel rooms empty now that the 400,000 group tours from mainland schools have finished. Okinawa Prefecture had said it would commit ¥750 million in a supplemental budget for the plan. Questions pertaining to how the program would work, how many patients would come, and how they’d be handled, were being addressed after Governor Hirokazu Nakaima asked the Prefecture Doctors Association to get ready to help out.

After further consideration, the decision was made to “keep suspending judgment of renting hotel rooms” because of the negative image it would project on Okinawa. The hotel association was at odds with the Prefecture, which thought the Prefecture Doctors Association would make everything alright, “giving people influenza information as the best way to protect everyone in a safe and comfortable environment.”

The Okinawa Prefecture Hotel and Ryokan Environment Sanitation Association decided renting rooms to influenza patients would not be prudent. The group said people wearing masks inside hotels by hotel staff would not give a good image to tourists. The association also questioned what to do if foreign tourists became influenza patients, asking who in government would be responsible for translators and services.

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