This morning I locked myself out of my hotel suite, barefoot, maskless, wearing pyjama bottoms. OK, I also had a t-shirt on and delighted in the 350m walk to find help. But why was I in the yard?
After 10 days in your 5-star resort, you do your laundry. We’re allocated washing powder for the job, but how do you hang up your linen without equipment? Terraces are bird territory. So, I wandered outside, looking for hedges to hold my bath sheets. Once I’d found a drying patch, I grabbed the clothes inside and rushed out, slamming the door by mistake. A site doctor walked me back with the key, and our brief conversation got me to think.
The Mauritian government overcame the virus effectively at the start of the pandemic and is now paranoid about its recurrence. Is this disease so devastating that hotel isolation is the answer? How arrogant to expect tourists to submit themselves to incarceration and pay for the pleasure? Who decided on a state takeover of resorts for the purpose? And who wrote the standard operating procedures? Medical staff respond at task level; the full picture is invisible.
A storm is brewing on social media, where current inmates and hundreds of would-be travellers are asking questions no-one can answer. About the actual cost of quarantine; the equipment and furnishings in rooms; the need for quarantiners to wash their own linen, and the safety consequences thereof; the quality of food, the non-responsiveness of staff. These things appear minor, but they are vital. Knowing that reason, care and organisation have informed a system makes it credible, and therefore, bearable.
Do hotel owners understand the damage they’re doing to their brand and their fixtures, by turning their rooms into quarantine facilities? Harsh chemicals stain taps, floors, and bathroom vanities. In the absence of crockery, we cut food and butter bread on tabletops. It looks as if Long Beach produces and serves our tepid canteen meals, but actually, the damage is from Health Department caterers. Five stars?
The morass is not just about the 14-day incarceration. The PM announces a re-opening of skies from the 1st of October; days later, he cancels commercial flights. A man on social media says no-one’s informed airlines that air traffic is about to start. An aeroplane can’t pitch without protocols. While questions echo in an abyss of contradictions, people’s lives remain on hold, their holidays botched, their weddings deferred, university studies stalled, business deals soured.
It feels callous to say I’m still enjoying quarantine, but there you go: I am. I’m also frustrated for everyone hanging in limbo. And bloody fed up with the ineptitude of the COVID policy.