COVID-19: New South Wales to charge INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS for compulsory quarantine stays
As predicted, NSW will start charging all international arrivals for their compulsory 14-day quarantine hotel accommodation and food.
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The Australian government from late March has required all international travellers arriving in Australia to quarantine for 14 days at their port of arrival. Travellers are allocated to ‘quarantine’ hotels by the various state governments and are confined to their rooms for 14 days. The government provides meals, and in most circumstances now, food can also be delivered by friends, relatives and food delivery companies.
Up until 12 July, most state governments have covered the cost of these quarantine hotel stays – with the exception of Queensland. These stays have accommodated around 35,000 arrivals in New South Wales at a cost of roughly AU$65,000.
The upside is that a bunch of hotels and hotel workers who would have been vacant and unemployed, have been full, and gainfully working.
The downside – especially in Victoria, is that hotel and security staff have become a vector for COVID-19 spreading out into the community. It is believed that the huge community outbreaks in Melbourne, Victoria, forming a ‘second’ wave, originated with security staff breaking infection protocols at some of these quarantine hotels.
The most salacious rumour is that transmission occurred when one/some security staff had sex with guests in quarantine. This was reported in the Australian gutter press, and by gutter, I mean the Daily Telegraph published by a News Corp. – a Murdoch associated company, so should be viewed with some caution. On the other hand, 14 days with nothing to do, does lead to mischief!
Who pays and how much
Broadly, the new charges apply to all arrivals from 18 July (Australian Eastern Standard Time), however, there are some exceptions:
- You won’t have to pay if your ticket was purchased before 13 July 2020
- If you experience financial hardship, then you can apply for a payment plan, or is significant cases of hardship – a reduced fee. Payment is required within 30 days of the end of your stay
- You will be charged AU$3,000 for your fourteen night stay, and that covers accommodation and food, plus AU$1,000 per additional adult, or AU$500 per additional child
Don’t think that because you will be charged, you will get a choice of hotel. You won’t. You will be allocated a hotel by quarantine authorities. You will be fed, and have access to wifi and video entertainment.
In Sydney, you get the luck of the draw. If you are lucky, you will get the Sofitel Wentworth with many rooms having Juliet balconies and french windows – so fresh air. If you are unlucky, then you will get a Novotel or similar 4-star offering, with no opening windows.
If you are headed to Australia and are faced with quarantine, I advise loading your device with a stack of films and videos, not to mention loads of reading material. Access to Netflix, is not a human right.
The cost of quarantine has become a significant burden to New South Wales, especially since Melbourne/Victoria has closed its borders to international arrivals, due to the current outbreaks of COVID-19 in that state.
Returning Australians have had more than 4 months notice of their conditions of return to Australia, if they were stuck abroad. Not returning home before now indicates a conscious decision to remain overseas.
There are some anomalies – we know of a case of an Australian citizen’s partner who must visit Australia within 12 months to meet the conditions of their visa. No extension of this provision has been provided by the Australian government in the light of COVID-19 restrictions. Fortunately, their ticket was purchased well before the 12 July deadline, so they shouldn’t need to cover the cost of their quarantine.
On the whole, I think this is a fair change to the quarantine provisions, especially since up until now, a major vector for COVID-19 infection was the arrival of travellers from overseas.