More safety failures in hotel quarantine

The Andrews Labor Government’s so-called “revamped” hotel quarantine program is putting Victorians health at risk.

So far three hotels have become coronavirus breeding grounds. More cases are appearing daily in workers, as well as travellers who appear to have caught the virus not overseas, but while staying inside hotel quarantine.

And yet, in a typical display of the Premier’s arrogance and deflection, Daniel Andrews yesterday referred to Victoria’s revamped hotel quarantine program as the “national standard”, despite currently having more cases linked to its hotel quarantine program than any other state or territory.

With Labor’s track record in mind, it’s no surprise Daniel Andrews and Labor’s Minister for Police and Emergency Services have sought to blame new virus strains for failures in the program, with little to no evidence to back this up.

Epidemiologist, Professor Peter Collignon has noted the lack of evidence for the aerosol spread theory and has stated that program failures are “still essentially an infection control problem”.

Under Victoria’s occupational health and safety laws, which apply to the Andrews Labor Government, employers and those who manage and control workplaces are legally obligated, among other things, to ensure their workplaces are safe and without risks to health.

In recent days, it has become clear that the Andrews Labor Government continues to fail in its OH&S obligations by:

  • Failing to supervise hotel quarantine program operations through use of surveillance, with Minister Neville stating that Victoria’s program doesn’t have surveillance cameras on every floor;

  • Failing to ensure all hotel quarantine program workers wear N95 masks, with epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett stating that hotel quarantine program support workers should be wearing N95 masks and that each guest should be treated as a positive case

  • Failing to ensure all hotel quarantine program workers have face shields or goggles, with Professor Peter Collignon stating that this form of PPE should be compulsory for those workers.

  • Reports of returned travellers leaving a hotel quarantine wearing bin-liners as makeshift Personal Protective Equipment.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Workplace Safety, Nick Wakeling:

“This week we are seeing the consequences of the Andrews Labor Government’s lack of accountability in relation to its disastrous hotel quarantine program.

“Even after all Victorians have been through, it’s astounding that some simple and effective infection control procedures are just not there.

“The Premier and his government needs to stop boasting and start doing everything in their power to ensure that all risks to health and safety in hotel quarantine are mitigated to the fullest possible extent.

“WorkSafe, which has failed to act decisively to date in relation to the initial hotel quarantine program, must ensure its monitoring and investigating any possible breaches of Victoria’s OH&S laws in Victoria’s revamped hotel quarantine program”

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Police and Community Safety, David Southwick:

“Despite all Daniel Andrews’ assurances, it’s clear that Labor still hasn’t got hotel quarantine right and is yet again placing the community in harm’s way.

“From ADF backflips, ventilation issues, hotel closures and last minute laws to allow charging of guests – yet again, Labor has dropped the ball on hotel quarantine.

“How could anyone have the confidence to travel or return to Victoria when quarantine breaches and dangerous outbreaks are becoming the norm?”

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