Authorities should keep an open mind about sleep cabins
in Zhongguancun, a technology hub for startups in Beijing, which offered capsule-like rooms on a short-term basis, has been ordered to suspend operations, raising questions about the future of such hotels. Beijing News commented on Monday:
Places offering WiFi-enabled sleep cabins that are sanitized by means of ultraviolet light, which users can check in and check out by using a smartphone, have been gaining popularity in many cities. Not least because the charges are reasonable: 10 yuan ($1.5) per half-hour for peak times and 6 yuan for every 30 minutes during offpeak times.
Reminiscent of capsule hotels, the places offering such sleep cabins target urban white collar workers, many of whom work overtime, who want a place to take a nap during the day.
Why the Zhongguancun-based business was shut down remains unclear. Local authorities have not taken further actions against other short-time sleep cabins elsewhere. They are right to bide their time instead of rushing to impose a complete ban on the budding service.
It is still early to say whether such sleeping cabins are a good idea or not, as they are a new business model.
Most sleep cabins are inside office buildings, and their air conditioning and soundproofing are flawed. Whether users are allowed to spend the night after the buildings are closed and who is responsible for their safety are yet to be determined.
More importantly, the licenses required to operate sleep cabins may be tricky to draw up. That, of course, calls for up-to-date, flexible policymaking to ensure the service is properly regulated.