Australia Returned travellers land in Victoria for the first time in two months
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The first international passenger flight in two months has landed in Victoria, marking the third official restart of the state's troubled hotel quarantine program.
Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL604 from Colombo touched down about 4.22am on Thursday, with passengers taken by bus to the Intercontinental on Collins Street in the CBD, where they will remain for a fortnight.
It's expected a total of 106 passengers will arrive in the state on Thursday, with more flights expected from Doha, Dubai and Singapore.
Those arriving this week will be housed at the Holiday Inn near Melbourne Airport and the Intercontinental.
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Some 106 returned travellers will arrive at Melbourne airport from 4.30am on Thursday aboard flights from Colombo, Doha, Dubai and Singapore. 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.
The Novotel Ibis Melbourne Central, Pan Pacific, Holiday Inn on Flinders and Element Melbourne Richmond are also ready for use after ventilation works.
The Holiday Inn on Flinders Street will function as a 'health hotel', taking travellers who test positive to COVID-19, while the Element Melbourne Richmond will take guests with medical conditions and complex needs.
The state hasn't accepted returned travellers since February 13, when workers contracted the UK strain of COVID-19 from guests at the Melbourne Aiport Holiday Inn.
The outbreak, which grew to 24 cases, triggered a statewide five-day lockdown.
Victoria's deadly second wave of COVID-19 last year also leaked from hotel quarantine and led to a judicial review and overhaul of the program.
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COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said Victorians can 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 latest changes, returned travellers will be tested four times, unable to leave their rooms for fresh air without a medical reason, have their mealtimes staggered and large family groups will be spaced out to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission.
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, although that is expected to increase in the second week to 1,000.
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Brisbane's three-day snap lockdown will end at midday today after just one new locally acquired case of COVID-19 was identified overnight. The new local case is linked to an existing cluster, while another nine cases were diagnosed in hotel quarantine.Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said "Easter is good to go" as she announced the ending of the lockdown.LIVE UPDATES: Green light for Easter travel in NSW © Getty Brisbane's empty CBD during the three-day lockdown, which will end today. She said the lockdown would lift early to avoid a rush of cars on the road.
Another six hotels are expected to join the program as it ramps up, 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.
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The Commonwealth will probe a third deal between the Andrews government and China to advance public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects, signed separately to Victoria's controversial Belt and Road deal. © (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images) Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews holds a press conference at Treasury Theatre on September 26, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Victoria's health minister Jenny Mikakos resigned on Saturday in the wake of the hotel quarantine inquiry.