The mandated 14-day hotel quarantine for unvaccinated guests has been called “redundant” by an organization representing multinational airlines.
The Board of Airlines Representatives of Australia (BARA), which represents 34 airlines that account for 90% of Australia’s overseas flights, has urged the government to “evaluate the need” for hotel quarantine for unvaccinated guests who have reached the cap.
BARA says that home quarantine would be a more acceptable approach and use of resources with fewer than 100 unvaccinated arrivals per day.
“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 organization 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 cited the National Review into Hotel Quarantine, which stated that “hotel quarantine is difficult to sustain, particularly for vulnerable people,” according to BARA.
“It is an expensive resource and requires a highly specialized workforce to support the system including clinical, welfare and security services in order to mitigate risk and discharge the duty of care obligations.”
The organization also quoted the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) which recently stated, “Whilst international travelers 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 chastised the Western Australian government for its recent U-turn on the proposed border reopening, which will leave up to 20,000 Western Australians trapped overseas forever, with weekly arrivals limited to 265 persons.
Residents might fly into other jurisdictions, which no longer require any period of quarantine for fully vaccinated Australians and visa holders and have no caps on vaccinated arrivals, before returning to WA and completing two weeks of home quarantine, according to the WA government.
However, due to present border limitations, all domestic arrivals must be granted an exemption in order to enter the state.
Furthermore, Abrams stated that such a notion emphasizes the necessity to eliminate flight restrictions and allow home quarantine measures for international visitors arriving in WA immediately.
“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?”