Surviving Australian Hotel Quarantine

Nothing prepares you for a hotel room cleanse that can happen anywhere in the world.

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Solitary confinement for two weeks. No fresh air. An underground network of barter and information. It sounds like a prison drama or a dystopian sci-fi movie, but it is the reality of Australians undergoing repatriation and mandatory hotel quarantine.

This is also my reality at present, as I am imprisoned for nine days at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sydney. I traveled to the United States early last month to assist with a family emergency and returned last week, like The Australian government imposed new limits on the number of travelers entering the country.

When I arrived in Sydney, I was met by the military, put on a bus and taken here, without knowing the location of my quarantine hotel until I arrived. I was led to my room by the soldiers, and I was not given the key. If I go out of my room and lock the door behind me, I will be fined. I’ve only seen other humans twice, on my second day and on the seventh day during my Covid test, when the nurses came to sweep my door. I get a daily call from the same nurses to ask if I have symptoms and to check on my mental health.

I’m the third person in my family to go through an Australian hotel quarantine – my sister moved back to Australia in February, and her partner followed in May – so I had an idea of ​​what to expect. But nothing really prepares you for the feeling of being confined, or the strange feeling of isolation when a long international trip ends in a hotel room purge that can happen anywhere in the world.

When my sister came, she was able to access almost all the information about quarantine, through Facebook groups dedicated to the experience. The posts in these groups were filled with stories about expired food, food completely unsuitable for young children, dirty rooms and maintenance issues – including flooded bathrooms – that could not be fixed because Doing so will break the quarantine.

There are questions and discussions about whether this form of detention is legal, whether the lack of fresh air and exercise is a violation of human rights, and Why states are managing hotel quarantines when there is a federal responsibility under Australia’s constitution.

But the pages are also used as an informal network where people offer tips on how to rent exercise equipment, how to buy microwaves and other items, and where to donate extra packaged food at the end of quarantine. When my sister left the quarantine, she gave a microwave she bought, as well as puzzles and food, to a woman at a different hotel she had met through one of the Facebook groups.

In addition to cabin fever, some less tempting food And the deep inability to focus on anything (besides really horrible movies), my experience has been pretty mild. I am stunned by the waste of all this – a waste of time and resources, mine and that of the government – given that I have been fully vaccinated, tested consistently, and have spent my time in the US being extremely vigilant. . I wish I could quarantine at home, which has proved effective in other countries and Could soon be an option for vaccinated citizens returning to Australia. But, given the current outbreaks in Melbourne and Sydney, I understand the reluctance to move to a less controlled version of the quarantine.

For now, I’m grateful I found my way home. For the foreseeable future, quarantine appears to be another unavoidable part of Australian life.

Have you gone through hotel quarantine in Australia? How was the experience for you? Tell us at /a>.

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