Australia Victoria's revived hotel program as 'safe as can be'
Melbourne's coronavirus hotel quarantine program reopens as international flights resume
International flights are returning to Melbourne with a jet from Sri Lanka the first to touch down early this morning, marking the resumption of Victoria's previously ill-fated hotel quarantine program.The state has again overhauled its hotel quarantine system, with six hotels initially available to house returned travellers.
Victoria'sfor the third time as government officials under mounting pressure reassure the state is "ready to go".
The first international flight is due to land at Melbourne Airport at 4.30am from Colombo.
Other flights from Sri Lanka, Singapore, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are also scheduled to arrive, with 106 passengers in total expected tomorrow.
Acting Police Minister Danny Pearson today said six hotels were ready to house arrivals following an extensive review into the quarantine scheme.
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"We've tested, we've trained and we are ready to go," he said.
"We've gone through these hotels room by room, floor by floor, to make sure that they are safe.
"We have refined the program accordingly."
The state's revived program will accept 800 returned travellers per week before ramping up to 1120 arrivals on April 15.
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Passenger flights have not arrived into the state since February 14, when COVID-19 once again seeped out of the hotel quarantine system,.
The scheme's body, COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV), confirmed international arrivals would be allowed to apply for special exemptions to leave hotel quarantine for a period of time.
First international flight arrives, Melbourne's hotel quarantine begins again
The first international passenger flight in two months has landed in Melbourne, marking the third official recommencement of the Victorian government's hotel quarantine program.Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL604 from Colombo touched down at 4.24am, with the first group of passengers bound for two weeks of quarantine at the Intercontinental Hotel on Collins Street in the CBD.
The exemptions include compassionate grounds, such as people wishing to attend a funeral or visit a dying relative.
There will be strict protocols in place, with returning travellers being required to test negative to COVID-19 before they are permitted to leave.
They also must wear full PPE while they are away from quarantine.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said the scheme had undergone a complete overhaul, with a raft of changes coming into effect.
There will be enhanced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements across all hotels, with 2200 staff to wear N95 masks.
A thorough ventilation review has been conducted, analysing the airflow in each hotel room.
Hotel quarantine staff also must be vaccinated in order to work in the program.
"We are really confident this program is as safe as we can make it," Ms Cassar said.
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