Adding Structure Makes Quarantine Bearable

Anette with husband and two mischievous chocolate brown labs, Chilli and Pepper (aka The Spice Boys), doing what we like best: going sailing!


A expatriate quarantine survivor says adding “structure” makes quarantine more bearable. Get properly dressed, do some work, exercise, spend “virtual” time with friends and family, and read or watch TV.  “To put it in a nutshell: plan your day!”

The Back Story

Anette is an expatriate who has been living in Singapore for 6 ½ years. In fact,  she is a conference interpreter. And she has worked for an international organization in Paris, France, for more than two decades.

Since Anette is in Singapore on a “Dependent Pass”, she has been working as a volunteer in a hospital, interpreting for doctors and patients. In addition, she has been coordinating a group of volunteers visiting people in hospital.

Anette flew back to Europe in September last year to visit a very sick friend. In addition, she helped her son move from Fontainebleau, France, to student accommodation in Chester, England,. Finally, she went to visit family in Scotland.

Then she returned to directly Singapore

“I flew non-stop from Paris,” Anette says. “On arrival, I had to show all the relevant paperwork (permission to re-enter Singapore) before passing passport control.”

After picking up her luggage, Anette was taken to a separate area to wait for the bus taking her and other passengers to their “designated facility”, which was a hotel, but she didn’t know which one.

“Once you arrive in Singapore, you are not allowed to interact with anybody or take anything from anybody, so I could only wave to my husband, who had come to the airport, from afar,” Aanette says.

Unlike travelers returning to Hong Kong or Thailand, people returning to Singapore are assigned accommodation by the government. And they all pay the same price.

“In Singapore, you cannot choose a hotel,” Anette explains.

“You cannot even ask which hotel you will be staying in. You only find out the name of the hotel once you have landed, just before you get on the bus.”

Anette was taken to the Carlton Hotel Singapore, a four-star hotel in the Bras Basah district.

Food and Beverage

“Pancakes for breakfast- a little dry, but not bad.”
“If I get one more poached chicken fillet, I will throw up!”
Breakfast pastry?

Three daily meals were included in the tariff, which ran 2,000 Singapore dollars for 14 days. While laundry was not included at Anette’s hotel, the hotel her children stayed at, Capri by Fraser, included five pieces of laundry per day.

While you could not choose your meals, you were asked if you had any food allergies. And you could also specify if required a special diet such as vegetarian or halal.

“I actually had a medical certificate stating a number of food intolerances, which I have since my gall bladder was taken out,” Anette says.

Unfortunately, there was a whole list of things she couldn’t eat. For example, onions, garlic, beans, cauliflower, cabbage, lentils, and fat would all cause severe stomach cramps..

“This resulted in the food being extremely bland,” Anette says.

“I suspect that they were scared that I would develop some sort of severe reaction.”

Water, coffee and tea, sugar, and creamer were provided. And a soft drink, which was mostly ice tea, came with the meals.

“After the 6th poached chicken and the umpteenth poached salmon, served with rice and steamed vegetables, I started canceling some of my meals and had some brought from home,” Anette says.

“I tried to explain that I could eat other things like pasta or salad, but to no avail.”

Fortunately, the hotel allowed food deliveries. And unlike Bangkok, wine was also allowed. But Anette wasn’t sure about “stronger alcohol”.

Support from Family and Friends

Anette was lucky because she had family and friends that brought her goodie baskets. And they made it possible for her to personalize her room.

“My family and friends spoiled me rotten with a welcome basket, flowers, and more goodies ranging from a good book and a puzzle to a cuddly cushion, wine, and other food delicacies,” Anette says,

“Some printed photographs to make your hotel room look less impersonal are great for morale, too.”

Anette’s daughter even made her  “Quarantini Calendar” with 14 photos with little messages on the back, one for each day of her quarantine.

“Every morning, I couldn’t wait to see what the next photo was.,” she says.

Anette’s Words to the Wise …

While people undergoing quarantine in Singapore can’t choose their hotel, if they could, Anette would have chosen a room with a window you could open.

Better yet, she would have chosen one with a balcony.

“This would take priority over room size,” she says. “It was really tough not to get any fresh air for 14 days.”

Another must-have is a strong Internet connection.

“WiFi is also essential since it is your link to the outside world,” Anette says. “I have friends/family in a lot of different countries and communicate a lot via WhatApp, Messenger, etc.”

In order to keep fit, Anette had a yoga mat, exercise bands, and some weights brought to the hotel.

“Another calming influence is a nice scented candle and music.” she says.

Finally, Anette believes you simply have to accept the fact that you are going to undergo quarantine in advance.

“It is important to have some ‘structure’ to your day,” Anette says.

“Get up, get properly dressed, do some work, do exercise, spend “virtual” time with friends and family, read your book or watch TV, etc. To put it in a nutshell: plan your day, even though you are not going anywhere”

For More in This Series …

This post on a Singapore quarantine survivor is part five in a series on how to survive hotel quarantine.  Click on the following links for more:

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