New York City will allow its ‘guests’ staying at city quarantine hotels to bring cigarettes and marijuana with them – staff nurse will bag, weigh, and distribute for smoke breaks.
New York City offers eligible residents a free stay at a hotel if they are infected with COVID-19, a program that has been offered since the pandemic started in 2020 to help stop the spread of the virus by protecting family members and roommates.
Now, residents will be allowed to bring cigarettes and marijuana with them, which has to be handed over to the staff nurse upon arrival. Patients will be allowed to smoke during their three daily outside breaks. Alcohol is not permitted.
New York City will allow its ‘guests’ staying at city quarantine hotels – such as the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel (pictured) – to bring cigarettes and marijuana with them. The city has offered a hotel program for residents since the start of the pandemic to stop the spread of the virus, but have found that some guests were refusing the option due to not being allowed to smoke or drink. At the moment, alcohol is not permitted
Guests will have to turn over their cigarettes and marijuana prior to checking in and will receive it on their three daily 15-minute breaks. Marijuana will be weighed, bagged, and distributed by the staff nurse so that no one steals another’s weed
Jonathan Martin, 21, from Astoria, Queens, who is staying at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel in the borough, said the staff took his weed and place it in a plastic bag when he arrived and handed it back to him on his breaks.
Martin, a coffee shop manager, will be staying in the hotel for five days until he completes his quarantine and said he was grateful to be able to bring it with him and that it was ‘nice to relax.’
‘They allow you to bring marijuana to quarantine with you, but they don’t let you bring alcohol,’ Martin told the New York Post.
‘It’s nice to relax when I’m stuck in a room…by myself for five days,’ he told the New York Post from outside of the hotel, where he was being monitored by staff on his 15-minute break.
He also told the New York Post that staff carefully inspected his sealed bottle of pomegranate juice when he arrive to make sure he wasn’t hiding any alcohol in it.
At one point, the city did consider allowing guests with substance abuse to be served alcohol by staff, as they were finding that guests were refusing the quarantine option when alcohol was off-limits – causing those they lived with to have harmful exposure to the virus.
Roughly 65 per cent of the guests staying in the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel and nearby Holiday Inn did bring marijuana with them
The plan was proposed by Dr. Amanda Johnson, who heads isolation and tracing for Test & Trace Corps – who is in charge of the city’s quarantine hotels – and it was reportedly meant to kept quiet, according to the New York Post.
It is unknown the exact reason the city decided against it or if it’s still under consideration.
Health + Hospitals, which runs Test & Trace Corps, however, said they did not serve alcohol to guests.
‘We do not provide guests with alcohol at the hotel.’
Despite the no-booze rule, roughly 65 per cent of those staying in the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel and the nearby Holiday Inn do enjoy smoking pot during their stay, a source told the New York Post.
And the recreational drug – which became legal in New York in September – is weighed by staff so that no one steals each other’s stash. This practice became standard after it was claimed that some guests claimed theirs was stolen.
Some are critical of the stint, saying it’s ‘supporting’ addictions.
‘I think it’s a shame. Nurses go into the field to care for patients, this is not care. Rather than offer patients help for addictions, it’s being supported,” the same insider told the New York Post.
‘Nurses are told it’s part of the job when they attempt to refuse to accompany patients to smoke marijuana or cigarettes.’
New York City has 330,000 COVID-19 cases at the moment, with a seven-day average of 33,000.
The city, which started as the epicenter of the pandemic and the Omicron variant, has seen mass testing lines and record-breaking number of cases.
The city offers a free hotel stay for up to 10 days that comes with three meals a day and transportation to and from patients’ homes.
Nurses will check temperatures and oxygen saturation levels daily.
Despite the convenient option, one guest describe her experience as the ‘Corona jail.’
‘It really felt more like Corona jail than a healthcare facility,’ an unidentified woman wrote in her complaint.
The LaGuardia Plaza Hotel reported 732 emergency calls made from the business in 2021. Six-hundred and ninety-four calls were made for an ambulance. The reasons for ambulances were not disclosed.