Covid-hit state to resume international flights TODAY after numerous hotel quarantine debacles saw the virus spread and infect hundreds
- More than 100 returned travellers are set to arrive in Melbourne on Thursday
- It is an early test of Victoria’s third iteration of the hotel quarantine program
- During its three-month-long lockdown last year, flights were stopped
- This happened again in February when workers caught the UK Covid strain
Victoria’s much-maligned hotel quarantine program has resumed, with international flights to touch down in the state for the first time in almost two months.
They will be taken to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport and the Intercontinental on Collins Street, where they will stay for a fortnight.
The state hasn’t accepted returned travellers since February 13, when workers contracted the UK strain of COVID-19 from guests at the Holiday Inn.
The outbreak, which grew to 24 cases, triggered a statewide five-day lockdown.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said Victorians should be confident in the third iteration of the scheme (pictured, travellers from Melbourne)
The program was overhauled in December after a judicial inquiry, with further reviews conducted by Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng and SaferCare Victoria following the second leak.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said Victorians should be confident in the third iteration of the scheme.
“We have done everything we can to make this as safe as we can and we will continue to ensure the program keeps ahead of this virus,” she said on Wednesday.
Under the changes, returned travellers will be tested four times, unable to leave their rooms for fresh air without a medical reason, have their meal times staggered and large family groups spaced out to mitigate aerosol transmission.
Arrivals are capped at 800 in the first week, though it is expected to increase in the second to 1,000 (pictured, arrivals from Melbourne)
Hotel quarantine staff have now all received at least one Pfizer dose, while the majority have also undergone N95 mask fit testing.
Arrivals are capped at 800 in the first week, though it is expected to increase in the second to 1,000.
The Novotel Ibis Melbourne Central, Pan Pacific, Holiday Inn on Flinders and Element Melbourne Richmond are also ready for use after ventilation works.
Another six hotels are expected to join the program, including the Four Points by Sheraton.
Victoria recorded no new local virus cases for the 40th day in a row on Wednesday, following 11,746 tests.