Several Minsk hostels temporarily refuse tourists from China to stay in. The Ministry of Sports and Tourism describe the actions as illegal.
Hostel managers explain such a decision by trying to please tourists from other countries who refuse to live in the same room with tourists from China.
“When the guests arrive, the first question they ask is whether we have Chinese here. If the answer is positive, they say that they won’t stay here,” says the manager of MyHostel on Kirava street in Minsk.
Have you tried to explain that all visitors from China to Belarus are checked and that citizens of other countries could be carrying the virus?
“People don’t understand it. Media should cover and explain it more. We got in touch with a Chinese tourist who wanted to stay at us, we politely explained the situation and figured it out without conflict. He understood us and didn’t send a complaint to booking.com.
It’s not us who are afraid, these are people who come, for example, from Russia. We also have no problems with booking.com, they are aware of the situation. We also recommend Chinese guests to contact the neighboring hostel, where they can rent a separate apartment.”
The manager says that the ban on the check-in of Chinese tourists in the hostel will remain, “until the issue with the coronavirus is resolved.”
What about other Minsk hostels? In Trinity on Staravilenskaja street and 31/18 Bashnya on praspiekt Niezaliežnasci, they have no restrictions applicable to tourists from China. However, in the Viva hostel on Žukoŭskaha street, they were hesitant about a possibility to book a room for tourists from China.
“We had no problems with tourists from China. But yesterday a Chinese man checked in and other people started to panic. That’s why we are probably not ready to accept tourists from China right now. Anyway, the final word will be with a director.”
Against the law and common sense
The representatives of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism expressed a surprise by the position of the hostel owners, since there were no such recommendations from the state.
“This contradicts all legislative norms and common sense. If the owners doubt the tourist’s state of health, they can offer medical examination, give a separate room and meals, but in no case they can refuse to check them in.
After all, a tourist can go to trial: there is no legal reason to refuse someone to stay in just because a person came from China,” says Vladimir Nesterovich, the spokesman for the ministry.
Recall that Belarus, unlike Russia, did not introduce an entry ban for Chinese citizens, airplanes from Beijing arrive to Minsk National Airport weekly. All passengers are checked by the sanitary-epidemiological service.
Chinese students who came back to studies in Belarus were placed in quarantine centers for the incubation period. This is a preventive measure – none of them contacted patients with a coronavirus or visited the areas affected by the outbreak.
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The Minister of Health said the agency opposes any manifestations of xenophobia against Chinese citizens:
“We are ardent opponents of xenophobia. A lot of Chinese citizens work and study here, this is about 5,000 students. Most of them did not leave Belarus during the Chinese New Year.
Therefore, when we see Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese citizens who walk our streets, these are the people who study with us, they either didn’t leave the territory of Belarus or underwent medical examinations.”