COVID-19: You will pay for your quarantine, not the government
In the Australian states of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria and Queensland, the respective state governments have been picking up the tab for your stay. That was a good thing, as it kept some income flowing to hotels that would have otherwise been bereft of guests during the lockdown of Australia’s national and some state borders.
Yesterday NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that the state would be pursuing other states’ treasuries – the end destinations for some Australians returning from overseas – for the hotel costs involved in their 14 day quarantine stay.
Looks like this has caused a minor tidal wave. Queensland is now talking of charging travellers for their mandatory quarantine stays from 1 July.
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Well given that hotels would otherwise be largely empty, the deal the government struck with hotels across the state according to the Herald Sun was AU$135/day for accommodation, AU$65/day for food per person.
Here is a summary of some of the charges from the Queensland Governments website all in Australian dollars:
Cost to Government
According to the statement, the Queensland government has spent about AU$19 million so far on accommodation, and expects that to have reached AU$24 million by the end of June – hence the user-pays system from 1 July.
In NSW they say it’s cost AU$51 million so far to accommodate 25,188 travellers. That’s a big incentive to on-charge the home states of the travellers in quarantine in NSW, their state of arrival from overseas.
This is not on. You can’t pick your own accommodation, or quarantine at home or a friends place, or even somewhere you have pre-booked. It has to be in the hotels determined by the government. This is fairly sensible, its the only way to keep control of the anti-infection practices, and assure the safety of staff and guests.
Dates booked and hardship
Also, if you can prove your travel was booked before June 17 2020, then you won’t be charged for your stay. The Queensland government is also looking at formulating a hardship scheme and eligibility criteria before 1 July.
I think it has been quite fare for the community via the government to cover the cost of quarantining returning travellers. It benefits the whole community, and so the cost should be socialised. However, we have been doing this for quite a few months, so Australian citizens overseas have had more than adequate notice about the need to return to Australia, and the mandatory quarantine that will be required.
It seems not unreasonable to charge people from July since the government funded scheme has been running for over 3 months.
I’ll give this one to the gurls – Gladys and Annastacia.