No person has a choice when asked to go into quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. If we have been in close contact with a sufferer or are suspected of having the infection, we owe it to ourselves and the community to isolate for up to 21 days. But authorities who make a quarantining order are also obliged to ensure that the facilities and food are of a reasonable standard. A way of assuring the quality of meals while throwing a lifeline to the struggling catering industry is to encourage firms to participate in an open and transparent bidding process for contracts. The Penny’s Bay quarantine centre on Lantau Island has been especially criticised by some people for the spartan room furnishings and meal standards. Luxury should not be expected, no matter how comfortable our own homes. But being a makeshift facility in an isolated part of the city does not mean that it can be substandard. A recent outbreak of food poisoning that sickened 45 people forced to stay there revealed that for all the thought put into protecting Hong Kong, there had not been similar attention applied to ensuring those forced into lockdown had a healthy diet. Authorities have rescinded the services of the vendor involved. That opens the way to ensuring a better system is established to provide meals for those in quarantine. The catering arm of Cathay Pacific Airways is believed to have been asked to bid for the contract, which would make good business sense given the high level of idle capacity that has resulted from the dramatic drop in air traffic. There are numerous other companies similarly affected, and through a bidding process those people in camps may have the opportunity to enjoy meals of a reasonable quality. Catering arm of Cathay Pacific could supply scandal-plagued quarantine centre The pandemic has affected livelihoods across the city and the catering and travel industries have been especially hard hit. Some are struggling and if they collapse, jobs will be lost along with investment. Predicting how the coronavirus will evolve is impossible, although it is safe to assume that even with mass vaccination, there will be a need for testing and quarantining. The difficult experience of isolating away from home can be made easier if the government ensures the basic requirement of food being safe and acceptable.