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Coronavirus: Australian travellers complain about their five-star quarantine hotels


Some Australian travellers cooped up in five-star hotels for 14 days of isolation after returning from overseas have complained they are living in ‘quarantine hell’ with no fresh air and terrible food.

Thousands of people flying into Australia have been shuttled to makeshift quarantine facilities as the government turns to law-and-order to fight coronavirus

With two-thirds of the country’s Covid-19 cases from or closely linked to overseas travellers, vacant luxury hotels are being used to ensure new arrivals are not able to spread the disease.  

In Sydney, travellers are being sent to the InterContinental, Swissotel and the Novotel on Darling Harbour. All three hotels are upmarket with starting prices of over $200 a night for standard rooms.   

In Melbourne people are being accommodated in the Crown Promenade, where guests typically pay a minimum price of $233 per night.

Returning overseas travellers are ushered into Sydney's InterContinental Hotel for the beginning of their 14-day imposed quarantine on Sunday

Returning overseas travellers are ushered into Sydney’s InterContinental Hotel for the beginning of their 14-day imposed quarantine on Sunday 

Thousands of people flying into Australia have been shuttled to makeshift quarantine facilities as the government turns to law-and-order to fight coronavirus. Pictured return travellers in Brisbane getting onto shuttle buses to go to hotels for quarantine

Thousands of people flying into Australia have been shuttled to makeshift quarantine facilities as the government turns to law-and-order to fight coronavirus. Pictured return travellers in Brisbane getting onto shuttle buses to go to hotels for quarantine

Recently arrived overseas travellers get off their bus and wait to check in at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne on Sunday

Recently arrived overseas travellers get off their bus and wait to check in at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne on Sunday

The Swissotel on Market Street in Sydney’s CBD is hosting 292 Australians who on Thursday arrived home by plane after disembarking the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship in Hawaii.

All travellers have been escorted to the hotels by border authorities upon arrival in Australia, but won’t have to pay a cent for their mandatory quarantine stay. 

In one Facebook group for those quarantined in the Swissotel, members complained about everything from the quality of their free food to the size of their rooms and the fact they couldn’t access Deliveroo or Uber Eats.

Some claimed hotel staff weren’t accommodating the specific needs of elderly people and parents with kids, while others described the hotel as a ‘miserable hell hole’ and said they were being treated like ‘prisoners and refugees’.   

But their complaints have fallen on deaf ears, with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller saying he had little sympathy for people being forced into quarantine while hundreds of thousands across Australia were facing unemployment.  

‘The hotels, I will not mention them by name, but they are five star hotels. They are not going that badly. There are people after the bushfires still living in tents and caravans. People are going okay, thank you,’ he said.

‘I know there will be people who are unhappy with the bed, the pillow, the heater, dinner and all those type of things.

‘The reality is they are in a hotel room, and yes, they will be isolated for 14 days. That is for their own protection, the protection of their family members and the protection of the NSW community.’

The Australian government is paying for all the expenses including transport, accommodation and food.  

One unimpressed Aussie quarantined in Sydney said her Deliveroo meal order had been turned away from the hotel as it was deemed a health risk by authorities.

‘There are three security guards on each floor, police guarding the entrance to the hotel and NOW we are not allowed to have anything delivered,’ she wrote.

‘Prisoners get treated better than we do.’

Other quarantined travellers said they heard ‘yelling and banging’ on the hotel walls, and said there was no way to access fresh air. 

In Sydney travellers are being sent to the Swissotel Sydney where they are staying in rooms worth $209 a night (pictured)

Australians stuck in quarantine have complained about the free three meals they are being given every day. Pictured above is a lunch served at the Swissotel

In Sydney, travellers are being sent to the Swissotel Sydney (left, a standard room) and given three meals every day

Returning overseas travellers are ushered into the InterContinental Hotel for the beginning of their 14-day imposed quarantine in Sydney

Returning overseas travellers are ushered into the InterContinental Hotel for the beginning of their 14-day imposed quarantine in Sydney

In Melbourne people are being accommodated in the Crown Promenade, where guests pay a minimum price of $233 per night

In Melbourne people are being accommodated in the Crown Promenade, where guests pay a minimum price of $233 per night

Temperature checks, military escorts and around-the-clock monitoring: What new quarantine rules mean for EVERY arrival  

All travellers arriving in Australia from overseas are being escorted off flights by defence force personnel and whisked away to new quarantine hotels set up across capital cities.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the measures on Friday, more than a week after the Ruby Princess debacle that saw 3,000 cruise ship passengers disembark in Sydney without a single health check. 

From midnight on Saturday, all arrivals at international airports have been forced to stay at accommodation facilities for their two weeks mandatory self-isolation under the close watch of border force officials, before getting the all clear to return home.

It comes as the first arrivals – 288 passengers from the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship – continue to reside inside the Swissotel in Sydney’s CBD, after being quietly ferried in the hotel’s back door at 4am on Thursday. 

Australians arriving home from overseas (pictured) will be escorted off flights by defence force personnel and whisked away to new quarantine hotels set up across all capital cities

Australians arriving home from overseas (pictured) will be escorted off flights by defence force personnel and whisked away to new quarantine hotels set up across all capital cities

This traveller was taking no precautions as they arrived at Sydney International Airport early on Friday morning, wearing a protective suit, mask and goggles

This traveller was taking no precautions as they arrived at Sydney International Airport early on Friday morning, wearing a protective suit, mask and goggles

Those who live in residential apartments on the top nine floors above the Swissotel received an email from building management on Thursday evening, outlining strict measures that are being taken to isolate them.

It is understood all hotels putting up travellers will undertake the same safety measures. 

Swissotel’s general manager said the passengers arrived at the 5-star hotel wearing masks, gloves and protective suits.

They were then moved through the ‘back corridors’ and into the biggest elevators in the hotel, so they could abide by social distancing.

As they were led to their rooms, a team of cleaners followed disinfecting all surfaces, the email stated.

Border force guards are understood to be watching each floor, with those in isolation warned they will be handed $1000 on-the-spot fines if they leave their hotel room. 

A passenger walks from the MV Artania to be attended to waiting paramedics on the wharf at Fremantle, Western Australia, on Friday

A passenger walks from the MV Artania to be attended to waiting paramedics on the wharf at Fremantle, Western Australia, on Friday

In announcing the new isolation measures during his press conference on Friday, Mr Morrison said international arrivals would be quarantined in the city they touch down in and not allowed to catch a connecting flight to their home state. 

‘States and territories will be quarantining all arrivals through our airports in hotels and other accommodation facilities for the two weeks of their mandatory self-isolation before they are able to return to their home,’ he said.

‘If their home is in South Australia or in Perth or in Tasmania and they have arrived in Melbourne, they will be quarantining in Melbourne.

‘If it’s in Sydney, it will be if Sydney. If it’s Brisbane, and so on.

‘The ADF will be supporting those states and territories with compliance checks to ensure that people are at their residences, that they have so worn sworn they would be at, to ensure we get compliance with the self-isolation.’

New arrivals to Australia will also have their temperatures check at the airport, with anyone suspected of being sick taken to hospital for observation. 

It comes as the first arrivals - 288 passengers from the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship - continue to reside inside the Swissotel in Sydney’s CBD, under the watchful eye of police (pictured)

It comes as the first arrivals – 288 passengers from the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship – continue to reside inside the Swissotel in Sydney’s CBD, under the watchful eye of police (pictured)

‘None of the windows open so there is no fresh air. The food was not nutritious or it was delivered at strange times, you could tell no one was prepared for this,’ photographer Tom Huntley told The Daily Telegraph.

Kev Moorse and his wife Libby said they felt like ‘test dummies’ for the hotel quarantine measures.

Mr Moorse claim they weren’t given basic food and medicine, and said a diabetic man couldn’t get any insulin.

‘There have been people yelling and banging on the walls. Really we have not been told anything,’ he said.  

Another person in quarantine, Dianne Griffiths, said a traveller who had an anxiety in her room wasn’t even allowed to open her door.

Someone else said the arrivals were ‘prisoners and refugees within our own country’ and had been stripped of their ‘human right and constitutional rights’.

Another man said the quarantine was not helping anyone, but rather harming people at the hotel.

‘I’m not sure the government are even aware of the conditions and the fact the hotel and medical group assigned to look after as are clearly unprepared and incapable of fulfilling their duty of care to anywhere near a satisfactory standard,’ he wrote.

‘We are still not being fed nutritious food. Or have any choice in what food we eat.’

‘To make matters worse we have now been BANNED from ordering food from outside the hotel. The medic team has deemed this a health risk. What a joke!’

‘Mothers have been separated from their kids with no access to even see each other. One mother has her five kids split into three rooms.’

Novotel Sydney

Crown Promenade, Melbourne

Returning overseas travellers are complaining about the standard of their accommodation during their 14-day mandatory quarantine. The government is paying for them to stay in hotels including Crown Melbourne (right) and Novotel Sydney (left)

Some people have even taken to having their family send them care packages including junk food and alcohol

Some people have even taken to having their family send them care packages including junk food and alcohol

Pictured above is a breakfast served at the Swissotel

Pictured above is a lunch served at Swissotel Sydney

Some of the hundreds of Australians stuck in quarantine have complained about the free three meals they are being given every day. Pictured left is a breakfast served at the Swissotel after complaints, and right is pictured before

One person took their complaint a step further, describing the five-star hotel they were staying at as a ‘hell hole’.

‘The way people are being detained is a disgrace to Australia. It will become a blot on your legacy if action is not taken to treat people decently, whose only ‘crime’ was to go on a holiday,’ they added. 

Which hotels are being used for quarantine

SYDNEY

Swissotel on Market Street in Sydney’s CBD – housing 292 former Norwegian Jewel cruise ship passengers who flew into Sydney on Thursday

The InterContinental 

Novotel on Darling Harbour

Rydges Airport Hotel (not an official quarantine hotel but is housing forcibly quarantined travellers)

MELBOURNE

Crown Promenade in Southbank, in the CBD – housing travellers who arrived from Auckland, Santiago, Doha and other destinations 

BRISBANE 

Airport Novotel Hotel – housing passengers from the flight that arrived into Brisbane from Denpasar at 4.46am on Sunday 

Ibis hotel at Brisbane Airport 

Some guests labelled their hotel isolation a knee-jerk reaction to NSW Health’s failure to stop passengers on the Ruby Princess cruise ship which was last week allowed to disembark without adequate checks.     

More than 170 Ruby Princess passengers now have COVID-19.

In a letter to guests on Saturday, Swissotel management promised everyone could access three meals per day, some shopping requests, medical services and rubbish and linen collection.

All arrivals must wear masks and gloves when interacting with hotel staff and room doors must be left closed. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Saturday admitted hotel-quarantined arrivals would likely experience a frustrating fortnight but made no apologies for government policy.

Swissotel for the next three months has been deemed a ‘human health response zone’ with heavy restrictions on entry.

‘It will not be perfect and foolproof,’ Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

‘We understand some people have had a very stressful time trying to get back home and we want to consider their position, but we also need to consider the health and safety of eight million residents in NSW and also more broadly, 25million people in Australia.’ 

It is not suggested that any of the travellers shown in photographs in this article have complained about staying in the hotels.

One member of the group said her Deliveroo meal order had been turned away from the hotel as it was deemed a health risk by authorities, while the hotel-issued food is poor

One member of the group said her Deliveroo meal order had been turned away from the hotel as it was deemed a health risk by authorities, while the hotel-issued food is poor

Recently arrived overseas travellers get off their bus and wait inside to check in at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne

Recently arrived overseas travellers get off their bus and wait inside to check in at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne

In Sydney, travellers are being sent to the InterContinental (pictured are travellers arriving on Sunday), Swissotel and the Novotel on Darling Harbour. All three hotels are upmarket with starting prices of over $200 a night for standard rooms.

In Sydney, travellers are being sent to the InterContinental (pictured are travellers arriving on Sunday), Swissotel and the Novotel on Darling Harbour. All three hotels are upmarket with starting prices of over $200 a night for standard rooms. 

Coronavirus in Australia: The latest 

NUMBERS

* Australian deaths: 16 – up two from Saturday. (eight in NSW, four in Vic, two in WA, two in Qld)

* Confirmed cases in Australia: 3981 – up 352 from Saturday.

* NSW remains the worst hit with 1791 after 186 new cases were confirmed since Saturday.

* Victoria recorded 84 new cases, taking the state’s total to 769. A fourth Victorian died overnight.

* A Queensland woman died, while the state recorded an extra 31 cases, taking the total to 656.

* SA was up 12 to 299, while WA was up 33, to 312.

* ACT has six new cases and 77 in total, Tasmania is stable on 62 and the NT has 15.

MEASURES

* $1.1 billion package to help with mental health, domestic violence prevention and other health measures.

* A WhatsApp group and a coronavirus app have been set up to provide Australians with updates.

* Australians returning home from overseas will be quarantined for two weeks in hotels or other accommodation before being allowed home.

* People flouting social distancing, isolation or quarantine orders faces fines of $1000 or more in most states.

* Borders closed in Queensland, Tasmania, SA, NT and WA. Freight and essential travel excepted.

* Tasmania and SA has banned gatherings of more than 10 people.

* Non-essential travel should cease.

* Australians, excluding aid workers and compassionate travel cases, are banned from international travel.

* A limited number of international rescue flights will be made for stranded Australians.

* Still open: supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, public transport, some schools, hairdressers, petrol stations, postal and freight services, bottle shops, newsagents, retail shops. Restaurants restricted to take-away/delivery in most states.

* Closed: schools in Victoria and ACT, gyms, indoor sports venues, pubs, cinemas, nightclubs, casinos, places of worship, theme parks, auction houses, food courts in shopping centres, beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlours, galleries, museums, libraries, youth centres, community halls, clubs, RSL clubs, swimming pools, amusement parks, arcades, indoor and outdoor play centres, social sports that involve large groups, outdoor and indoor markets.

* School holidays in Queensland, SA and WA also brought forward with only children of parents who have essential jobs allowed to stay.

* Funerals are limited to no more than 10 people, but states can provide exemptions; weddings restricted to the couple, celebrant and two witnesses.

* All elective surgery in public facilities put on hold.

* Testing extended to include anyone with a fever or acute respiratory infection who works in health care or aged care, lives in areas with an elevated risk of community transmission, or where there are two or more plausibly linked cases.

* All patients will be able to access Medicare-funded online consultations from next week.

KEY QUOTE

* ‘The entire world has an enemy that is moving through it, an unseen enemy that doesn’t have borders.’ – NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard. 

SPORT

* A Newcastle Jets player became the first professional footballer in Australia to test positive.

* The AFL, NRL, A-league soccer, Super Rugby and netball competitions are postponed.

ECONOMICS

* Federal parliament has passed two packages worth $17.6 billion and $66 billion in response to the outbreak of the virus; states have also announced stimulus packages.

* Government is expected to announce a form of wage subsidy this week.

* Struggling regional airlines were promised $198 million and offered an additional $100 million if needed.

* Major retailers including Myer, Premier Investment, and fashion chains such as Country Road have closed retail shops, but continue to trade online.

* Supermarkets Woolworths and Coles are hiring thousands to meet demand.

* An economist has predicted an unemployment rate between 15 and 17 per cent by Easter.

GLOBAL CORONAVIRUS

* Cases: more than 664,104

* Deaths: more than 30,883

* Recovered: at least 142,361 



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