Covid-19 has led to some extreme travel measures but now Australia is setting up its new arrivals in hotels. But these aren’t the fancy hotels you would wish to relax and take a holiday in. The hotels are especially for new arrivals in Australia from overseas and will likely include some protective measures.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the measures on today, just a week after a cruise ship called the Ruby Princess saw 2,647 disembark in Sydney without being checked.
Since the cruise liner’s slip up, 162 of the ship’s passengers have been diagnosed with coronavirus.
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A Princess Cruises spokesperson said:”As NSW Health has stated publicly the Ruby Princess cruise that began in Sydney on March 8 was regarded as low risk for COVID-19. Notwithstanding this assessment, our onboard medical team was rigorous in its treatment of some guests who reported flu-like symptoms and these guests were isolated. In line with existing protocols, the ship reported these cases to NSW Health, which in turn requested swabs to be provided following the ship’s arrival in Sydney, some of which subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
“It is practice the world over that tests for COVID-19 are not conducted on board cruise ships. The protocol is for swabs to be tested by the relevant public health authority, and this was done in relation to Ruby Princess. Disembarkation of the ship was in line with the then existing process for health clearance for vessels on arrival in port.
“On disembarkation, guests were aware that anyone arriving in Australia from abroad, irrespective of whether it was by air or sea, would be required by the Australian Government to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This applied to Ruby Princess guests who arrived in Sydney from an overseas port, in this case from New Zealand.
“Princess Cruises has robust public health standards and practices that are based on the best international public health advice. Ships have sophisticated medical centres that are staffed by medical practitioners and other health professionals.
“The advice from NSW Health that COVID-19 had been confirmed among Ruby Princess passengers came as a disappointment. We share the public health authority’s concern and have worked closely with them to make direct contact with all passengers.”
From midnight on Saturday, which is at 12pm GMT today, all arrivals at international airports will be made to stay at hotels for two weeks for mandatory self-isolation.
The isolation will take place under the eyes of border force officials.
Once the two weeks is over, people will be able to return home.
Currently, 228 passengers from the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship are residing inside the Swissotel in Sydney’s CBD after being escorted in through the hotel’s backdoor at 4am.
The passengers were forced to wear masks, gloves and protective suits as they arrived.
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Passengers will also be given an $1,000 (£495) on-the-spot fines if they leave their hotel room.
Mr Morrison said that international arrivals will be put in quarantine in the city they touch down and won’t be allowed to catch a connecting flight to their home state.
He said: “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.
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“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.”
Australia’s borders closed last week to foreigners, with only returning Aussies allowed to fly back to the country.
However, people on Twitter have mixed feelings about the Australian government’s latest measures.
One user said: “How much is the government going to pay hotels, caravan parks and any other accommodation facilities, for disinfecting their premises totally, after allowing international people into Australia again. No wonder there’s more coronavirus coming into the country!
“If people flying into Australia are put in hotels to isolate – fantastic.”
Another said: “But what about those who arrived here in the last two weeks, who are meant to be in their homes isolating but are not there?”
Another posted: “Enforced quarantine in hotels to all arrivals into Australia for two weeks is a good step by Scott Morrison and team.
“This is a huge element that has made Singapore, Taiwan and Japan so successful.”
But another passenger said they had arrived back in Australia last night and would not be quarantined.
They said: “Arrived in Australia last night after 26 hours. I now hear that if it was tomorrow I would be in a hotel in Melbourne for two weeks. I do feel for those that are yet to make it home.”
Another said jokingly, “In a nutshell, Australia is a holiday hotel masquerading as a nation.”
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