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If you wondered what happens to international arrivals that need to go into 14 day arrival quarantine due to COVID-19, this post might provide you with some insight.

August arrivals

A good friend of ours needed to come to Australia before the end of the year for residency purposes. The Australian government might be making a lot of concessions due to COVID-19, but some relaxation of residency regulations are not part of them.

Despite the stylish PPE on flight attendants, worn over their regular uniforms, the masks and visors on travellers, his trip on Qatar in Q-Suites was close to normal – except for distribution of a COVID-19 information pamphlet on board.

a questionnaire about the spread of coronavirus

The arrival process was pretty normal, except, between disembarkation and being processed through immigration, he was intercepted by a nurse who took his temperature and asked if he displayed any COCID-19 symptoms or had been close to any person with COCID-19. There were about 6 nurses completing the passenger screening at any one time. The process involved queuing, getting seen by the nurse and then continuing on to passport control.

Fortunately our friend did not get to find out what happens to those who make a positive response, or are a bit overheated in the temperature checking department.

None of the passport scanning machines were available since all Immigration processes were completed manually.

Once past the border, our friend reached the luggage hall, collected his luggage, and was then directed to a waiting area while three buses were called for the arrivals.

Other than the nurses questions, no one spoke or briefed the passengers on what to expect until the buses arrived at their destination hotels.

a white paper with black text
The arrival letter from the hotel

Bus and hotel allocation – the luck of the draw

To our friend, hotel allocation appeared to be random. Passengers were directed to one of the three buses that arrived. Each bus was destined for a different hotel – not conveyed to the passengers until their arrival. Once at the hotel, a police officer boarded and asked if everyone spoke English, and confirmed that they all knew that they had arrived at their quarantine hotel and that they had to complete 14 days of isolation.

Our friend says that everything happened efficiently, if not quickly. There was a deal of waiting around, without much information on what was to happen next.

As he observed, given the paucity of flights arriving, it seemed odd that over an hour passed between their completion of arrival procedures and baggage collection before buses were available to transport them to their quarantine hotels.

All interactions between international arrival passengers, police and other officers were handled politely and amicably.

a menu of a restaurant
In room snack menu – additional to provided meals

Amora Hotel Jamison Street

He lucked in by being allocated to the Amora – a five star hotel with glimpses, depending on floor and aspect, of the Sydney harbour surrounds and the north shore.

His first COVID-19 test was conducted the day after his evening arrival, and the future testing procedure (Day 11) was explained.

Meal Time

Meal service at the hotel was of good quality – better than our friend expected, even though their timetable tended to be more for children than adults. Breakfast tended to arrive between 7.30 and 8 am; lunch around 12.15 pm and dinner at 6.15 pm. Menu’s were set but varied – well on a 7 day rotation – as our friend discovered in the second week of his stay. Serves were adequate, packaging was eco and meals a little carb heavy – think pizza and pasta.

Cleaning, bedding and rubbish

Rooms were not cleaned during the stay – which is not unexpected given COVID-19 protocols. Fresh bedding was provided after the first week of his stay, but it was DIY bed making and towel changing. Rubbish could be left outside the door and was collected regularly.

Fresh air and windows

The hotel is a high-rise, so unsurprisingly, windows do not open. Our friend thought this would be his major concern during the quarantine period – well maybe second to his hotel allocation. It turned out – not so much. His large window admitted sunlight during part of the day, and the air-conditioning was efficient.

a menu with a list of drinks
Our friend was using his quarantine time to conquer a few alcohol free days.
He ‘lapsed’ one day during a virtual dinner party, and necked a few beers.

14 days is 14 nights and 15 days

Our friend’s stay at the hotel was uneventful, but long. In travel booking tour terms it was 15 days and 14 nights long!

During that time he arranged and/or received deliveries from Woolworths, including snacks and mineral water; Uber Eats, and a florist. These were all handled in an appropriate COVID-19 safe way. Meaning that deliveries were left outside his door, and he was alerted to them either by a knock at the door, or a call from reception. So knocks for meal deliveries, and calls for non-food items, presumably.

Get me out of here!

Our friend received his 2nd COVID-19 test results on his 14th day at the hotel, but unfortunately had to spend another night (his 14th) at the hotel before being released. He was given a colour coded wrist band with the day of release printed on it, as well as some important information from NSW Health.

Presumably because he arrived after midday originally, his release was set for the afternoon, between 4 and 6pm.

As it turned out, he was not the only releasee, and had to wait some additional time while hallways and lifts were sufficiently clear and social distancing compliant. The process involved each person being escorted by a police officer from their room down to reception where they then had to see another police officer to give name, and room number and be processed (speedily) for discharge.

a sign with text on it
a white paper with blue and red text

He walked out with two further important documents. One confirming his completion of the quarantine period, and the other confirming his last negative COVIDE-19 test.

a paper with text on it
a paper with a message on it

. . . and then FREDOM!!

2PAXfly Takeout

Not an experience our friend would readily sign up for again, but definitely not as bad as some of the reports I have seen.

It’s important to note, that our resilient friend was one person staying in one room in a 5 star hotel. He was well prepared with plenty of back catalogue movies, a Netflix account, some work, an array of podcasts, reading matter, exercise bands, and a husband and friendship group that kept in regular contact via phone and Zoom calls.

I think it would be a whole different ball game if you were more than one person, or with one or more young children, or even teenagers. Staying in a different class of hotel with a different level of service, square meterage, or food options would also have markedly changed the experience. And for me – as with our friend, having a bath would have made a big difference.

I’m a person that’s pretty happy with my own company, but even I would view spending a fortnight kept in the same 32 square metres with some trepidation.

Oh yes, and our newly minted Australian resident is now taking full advantage of the, exercise, beach and eating opportunities the current glorious Sydney weather is affording.

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