Holidaymakers isolating in five-star hotels after returning to Australia have compared their stay to ‘torture’, as one couple begged for ‘fresh air’.
Thousands of Australians who have returned from overseas since Sunday have been put in a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But luckily for the travellers, they are being put up in some of the country’s best hotels – and its all paid for by taxpayers.
Despite this, many of those holed up in the hotels have compared it to ‘prison’ – with one woman calling it ‘torture’ despite enjoy a fluffy white hotel robe and a glass of wine.
The drastic move followed revelations from Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the majority of coronavirus cases in the country were from Australians returning from abroad.
Retired lawyer Ray from Adelaide (pictured) held up a sign which read ‘We need fresh air’, after being holed up in Melbourne’s Crown Promenade hotel with his wife Jackie
A TYPICAL DAY IN A CORONA-HOTEL
Breakfast is usually served at around 8am and can consist of:
Eggs, pastries, fresh fruit, juice, milk and a yoghurt.
Guests spend their mornings bathing, reading and catching up on the news.
Some have spent their mornings exercising in their rooms.
Lunch is expected to arrive around midday, but can vary
It usually includes a salad, bread and butter, sweet treats and fresh fruit.
Many then spend their afternoons on social media or speaking to friends and family on video calls.
Dinner is due to arrive at 6pm, but can come as late as 9pm.
Usually hot, it includes comforting foods such as lasagna or chicken teriyaki, as well as dessert.
Many travellers can order anything they want from a separate menu, including beer, wine and food, but it must be paid for privately.
They can then settle in to watch a film, with many being uploaded to the hotel rooms, and most get free Foxtel.
Ray and Jackie, from Adelaide, are mid-way through their quarantine, and are staying in the Crown Promenade hotel in Melbourne.
Holding up a pleading sign which read ‘we need fresh air’, the couple revealed the prison-like conditions were taking a toll on their mental health.
‘I don’t want to complain too much, people think this is great five-star accommodation and so forth,’ Ray, a retired lawyer, told A Current Affair.
‘But I think you’re going to have a major mental health problem amongst the people staying here.
‘I’d easily swap places with you. You can come up here if you want to and take advantage of the five-star facilities. We can’t even get past the door without security guards charging at us.
‘[Prisoners] can go out and breathe the fresh air and listen to the birds and so on, whereas we can’t even do that.’
The couple were returning from a trip to South America when the rule came in.
It forced the couple into isolation before they can go home to Adelaide – where they will need to isolate again because of South Australia’s own rules.
‘For goodness sake, treat people with dignity and respect,’ his wife added.
‘We are not prisoners here, we are human beings.’
The couple, who are both diabetic, also complained about the quality of the food, which they said is often full of sugar and delivered at unpredictable times.
Nicola McCooe (pictured) is one of those at the InterContinental in Sydney, and described the isolation as ‘torture’ as she sat in a dressing gown with a glass of white wine
Jackie and Ray from Adelaide (pictured) had been trying to get back home to Adelaide from a holiday in South America, but are now stuck in Melbourne’s Crown Promenade hotel
‘My daughter is a nutritionist, I took a photo of the food we’ve been given and she was appalled. Appalled,’ Jackie added.
‘This is a rich country. We are not a third world country. We are pumped with sugar and chocolate at breakfast, lunch and dinner.’
Those who returned to Sydney were sent to the InterContinental, Hilton, Swissotel and the Novotel on Darling Harbour- all with starting prices of over $200 a night for standard rooms.
Nicola McCooe is one of those at the InterContinental in Sydney, and explained she had been excited about the stay before reality set in.
Shelly (pictured) is in a Sydney Travelodge, but said she was fairly happy with the fruit provided at meal times
Vegans Sarah (pictured, left) and Matt (right) complained they had even been served salmon during their stay, and that meals often came late
WHO PAYS FOR THE QUARANTINE HOTELS?
The cost of the 14-day quarantine hotels for arrivals in Australia will be split between the states.
It will depend on where the arriving travelling usually lives.
So if the person is from Adelaide, but staying at a hotel in Sydney, it is South Australia which will pay.
At the moment, there are no rules in place which dictate that the holidaymaker themselves has to pay, meaning it is coming from taxpayers.
Sitting in a fluffy white InterContinental dressing gown, she said: ‘It is torture. It’s worse than jail.
‘They do a brilliant knock and run to leave the food at the door.
‘I’m not sleeping very well and I’m finding it difficult to exercise in the room, so I think all of those things are just making me feel like this.’
She arrived at the hotel tired and hungry having being fed three bread rolls and three chocolate bars on her long haul flight home from London.
Three hours later, she began feeling light headed having still not had anything to eat.
‘I was calling and calling, asking, is there something coming? I’d called them so many times,’ she told Marie Claire magazine.
A traveller staying in the Crown Promenade in Melbourne has been making an online diary of her meals (pictured, a typical breakfast)
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 5,550
New South Wales: 2,493
Western Australia: 436
South Australia: 407
Australian Capital Territory: 93
Northern Territory: 26
TOTAL CASES: 5,550
‘Since then, I’ve had to call them every time to get my meal.’
All but one of her meals have contained meat, despite Ms McCooe telling the hotel she was a vegetarian.
She described the quarantine conditions as ‘shocking’.
‘It very much feels like we are prisoners and the only thing getting me through is hoping that it will get better,’ she said.
Ms McCooe has taken to Instagram to document her self-isolation, including her meals, which she says are gradually improving with the addition of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Meanwhile. a traveller called Shelly staying at a Sydney Travelodge showed off her healthy breakfast of melon.
This is a typical dinner supplied to travellers at the Crown Promenade in Melbourne this week
‘I’m about to eat this apple, which I saved from my lunch pack today’, she said in one video.
‘I’m really happy the first thing out is melon, very different to what I see some of my friends are having at the moment in some of the other accommodation – or facilities, rather. But for me, I’m pleased with that.’
But one couple weren’t having such a pleasant experience with their meals.
Vegans Sarah and Matt complained they had even been served salmon during their stay, and that meals often came late.
‘We’re starving, it’s crazy,’ Matt said
This is an example of a lunch supplied to returning travellers at the Crown Promenade in Melbourne this week
‘Dinner is supposed to be around 6pm I think, but I’ve called up at 9pm and asked for food,’ Sarah explained.
‘And at 9.30 had like two pears and a bread roll sent up – for the both of us.’
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian conceded earlier in the week that Australians returning from overseas will face tough times in self-isolation.
‘It will not be perfect and foolproof,’ Ms Berejiklian she told reporters
‘We understand some people have had a very stressful time trying to get back home and we want to consider their position, but we also need to consider the health and safety of eight million residents in NSW and also more broadly, 25 million people in Australia.’
Returning traveller Nicola McCooe says her meals at the InterContinental are gradually getting better (pictured) and even contain fruit and vegetables
Nicola McCooe (pictured) flew home from London this week as the global coronavirus epidemic worsens
It comes after NSW reported a spike overnight in coronavirus cases, with another 104 people confirmed to have the killer illness.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there were now 2,493 cases of coronavirus in the state, up from 2,389 on Friday.
The number of new cases in NSW had been declining for the last three days before Saturday’s new figures.
There are now 5,550 confirmed cases in Australia, meaning more than 45 per cent of cases are in NSW.
Twelve of Australia’s 30 deaths from coronavirus were also in NSW.
As of Saturday night, there are 5,550 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, with 30 people dead