Nearly 400 returned travellers staying in the Travelodge Wentworth hotel in Sydney are being transferred to alternative accommodation after New South Wales police determined the hotel failed to meet the quarantine program’s standards.
The move came after guests complained they’d found hair, toenails and dirt in their rooms.
“Hotels that do not meet the expectations are rotated out of the hotels roster,” NSW police said on Tuesday.
“The health, safety and comfort of all quarantined travellers remains a top priority.”
Regular audits are undertaken of infection control practices at quarantine hotels and police officers, security guards and other staff on site are trained in the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by clinical staff, NSW police said.
Returned travellers at the Travelodge Wentworth reported finding sticky door handles in their rooms, clumps of other people’s hair and toenails, and dirt and grime in the bathroom.
The 366 guests were informed on Tuesday they would be relocated to more suitable accommodation. The move is expected to take 12 hours.
Lauren Farmer, an Australian who returned from the United Kingdom this week to apply for her UK spouse visa, said her room was dirty, with clumps of hair on the couches, white powder on the carpet, and tables and handles sticky.
“The bathroom and shower floor were so covered in grime and dirt that I didn’t even feel comfortable using the toilet or having a shower, I just didn’t even want to be in that space,” she said.
“It just was so disheartening [given] everything returning travellers are going through to just get back to Australia.”
Farmer said she was willing to go into the quarantine “because it’s effective and [we are] totally supportive” but the Travelodge wasn’t up to scratch.
Guardian Australia has sought comment from Travelodge. The hotel told HuffPost the rooms were deep cleaned before and after each guest.
Farmer said the hotel management was supportive but had limited power to help her. Two cleaners in full PPE came and cleaned her room but she was moved to a different hotel on Monday afternoon.
Returned travellers in the Travelodge Wentworth had formed a WhatsApp group to discuss their situation and people have been sharing stories on a Facebook group.
Since mandatory hotel quarantine for returned travellers was introduced in NSW, more than 50,000 people have stayed at NSW police-managed hotels across Sydney. Currently there are 4,185 people staying in 16 hotels in Sydney.
The NSW government charges travellers returning from overseas $3,000 per adult for quarantine, plus $1,000 for any additional adults, and $500 per child over three years of age.
There is currently a cap on returned travellers coming back to Australia at 4,000 per week, in part due to Melbourne not accepting any amid Victoria’s second wave, which is a result of infection breaches in hotel quarantine.
The cap on incoming travellers has also led to extensive delays, and cancellations on flight bookings for Australians seeking to return home, with flights only able to book as few as 30 passengers on board.
In the inquiry into the Victorian government’s program last week, a returned passenger reported discovering dirt, as well as used gloves and a face mask in his room in the Rydges on Swanston. The government-managed quarantine hotel is the source of 90% of all current Covid-19 infections in Victoria.
Two security guards working in hotel quarantine at the Sydney Harbour Marriott hotel have tested positive for Covid-19. One of the security guards was fined twice by NSW police this week for failing to isolate after his test.
Source: The Guardian