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Airlines call for end to hotel quarantine for unvaccinated passengers

written by Hannah Dowling | January 28, 2022

Victor Pody shot this Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-941, 9V-SHA.

An organisation representing international airlines has called for an end to mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for unvaccinated arrivals, deeming the practice “redundant”.

The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA), which represents 34 airlines that together make up 90 per cent of Australia’s international flights, has called on the government to “review the need” for hotel quarantine on capped unvaccinated arrivals.

With under 100 unvaccinated arrivals entering the country per day, BARA claims home quarantine would be a more appropriate measure and use of resources.

“Quarantining this small cohort of passengers, who are then released into a community with COVID widely circulating, is not consistent with the stated rationale of hotel quarantine,” the organisation said in a statement.

“If hotel quarantine was replaced with alternative measures, such as a period of home self-isolation and required testing, it would free up health and other resources that could be better deployed in supporting the current wave of infections within communities.”

BARA quoted the recently completed National Review into hotel quarantine, which found that “hotel quarantine is difficult to endure, particularly for vulnerable people”.

“It is an expensive resource and requires a highly specialised workforce to support the system including clinical, welfare and security services in order to mitigate risk and discharge duty of care obligations.”

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The organisation also quoted the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) which recently stated, “Whilst international travellers currently have a higher likelihood of infection, this may change as Omicron spreads within the community.”

BARA executive director Barry Abrams stated that hotel quarantine is a “resource intensive activity for everyone involved” that was implemented during a time when Australia saw little to no community transmission of COVID-19.

“With over 400,000 active COVID-19 cases now in the community, the merits of 14 days mandatory quarantine for this small cohort of passengers − who already have a negative COVID-19 test before departure to Australia − does not seem to fit well with its stated purpose,” Abrams said.

“Ending hotel quarantine and perhaps replacing it with other measures, such as home self-isolation and a testing regime, could free up considerable health and other support services that could be better used supporting the current situation in the community.”

It comes after Abrams and BARA also criticised the Western Australian government for its recent backflip on its planned border reopening, which will see up to 20,000 Western Australians stranded overseas indefinitely, with arrivals capped at 265 people per week.

The WA government suggested that perhaps, residents could fly into other states, which no longer require any length of quarantine for fully vaccinated Australians and visa holders and have no caps on vaccinated arrivals, before flying domestically into WA and completing two weeks of home quarantine.

However, current border restrictions dictate that all domestic arrivals need to be provided with an exemption to enter the state.

Further, Abrams said such a suggestion highlights the need to drop flight caps and allow home quarantine measures for international travellers arriving directly in WA.

“The recent announcement over home quarantine arrangements via entry into other states such as New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia is difficult to understand,” Abrams said.

“Why cannot the passengers simply fly direct into Western Australia and then home quarantine? And why have hotel quarantine at all then?”

Comments (4)

  • Adrian P

    says:

    Passengers who do have Covid irrespective of vaccine status can spread Covid. (It is how Omicron got into NSW)
    Passengers who do not have Covid irrespective of vaccine status can not spread Covid.

    Have a negative COVID-19 test before departure to Australia then a Rapid Antigen Test at the border should determine what happens next after arrival.

  • Dean

    says:

    Thank you for this article Hannah, it’s refreshing to see this sort of content being published and gives us hope that my partner and I will be able to afford to return back to the U.S to grieve the loss of her father who passed away only days after she was allowed to leave her first mandatory hotel quarantine. It is completely redundant at this current moment and every day we wake up and hope to see that the government shows some common sense and allows for the return of home quarantine as the worst case.

  • Angry passenger

    says:

    Drop the stupid mask mandates before you start accusing the government of being stupid.

  • aries1470

    says:

    So, what it comes down to, is State Governments and not the Commonwealth.
    Maybe the G.G. needs to get booted or boot the ridiculous people. Back in the ’70’s this happened so there is a precedent.

    Covid is now nearly on the same level as the “flu” and has started being treated as such in many countries or being looked as such overseas. It still has a slightly higher mortality rate than the Flu, but then again, we never were getting the figures publicly everyday in our face about people passing away due to the flu.

    We need to start getting back to “normal” after covid. Now a Covid shot is being developed that will also make the flu the thing of the past, plus we now have oral treatments approved for people that do catch it.

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