What to expect when you return to Australia? An Australian citizen who is undergoing quarantine at a Melbourne hotel after returning from India shares his experience.
Raj Ram Kumar* returned to Melbourne on Saturday after being stuck in India for over 10 weeks due to border closure and termination of international flight services.
- Currently, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia.
- Returning travellers must go into quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
- Quarantine bill being footed by state governments but returning passengers may soon have to foot their bill.
“I was desperate to return. I had to return to work or I would lose my job. It was really hard to get back,” Mr Kumar told SBS Hindi.
“The tickets were limited and thousands are trying to book these tickets. I was trying to book from three laptops at the same time and I still could not. I would reach the payment step and it would be sold out.
“I finally got an opportunity to buy a ticket only after someone cancelled at the last minute. I took up the offer and finally took the flight to Melbourne from Chennai,” he says.
Under current border restrictions, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia and must go into quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Mr Kumar who is an Australian citizen was stuck in Bengaluru where he had gone to visit his family.
“I first travelled from Bengaluru to Chennai. I was really frightened to be in Chennai as the city has many COVID-19 cases. We stayed the night at the designated hotel and were pre-screened for symptoms before we boarded the flight,” he says.
‘I don’t need to be treated this way’
Mr Kumar is currently under quarantine at a hotel in Melbourne.
“The hotel is nice and everyday a nurse comes to check on us and find out if we are showing any symptoms,” he says.
However, he is not happy with how his requests for some ‘basic things’ have been turned down by the hotel.
“We were told we will be given three meals every day. Instead, they have given me a box of cereal and provide two meals,” he says.
Mr Kumar’s request for fresh or alternative breakfast has been turned down.
“They asked me to order myself and get it delivered. I requested for bathroom slippers as it is really cold in Melbourne but they told me to buy it and get it delivered,” he said.
“I asked for water and they said I have to pay for it or drink the tap water.
“I am an Australian citizen. I have paid taxes for the last 14 years. I don’t need to be treated this way,” he says.
State governments may soon stop funding mandatory isolation in hotels
The hotel quarantine bill is being footed by the state government at present but returning travellers from overseas may soon have to pay for their hotel quarantine bill.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk hinted last week that the arrangement was about to end with state governments soon expecting people returning from overseas to "pay that bill".
"We, the governments have, at a national cabinet level, we have agreed that state governments would pay for that," Ms Palaszczuk told reporters.
"Now, we are looking at in the future, for people who are returning back from overseas, for them to pay that bill.”
Mr Kumar says passengers should not be forced to quarantine in a hotel if they do not have symptoms and are well.
“We should not be forced to stay in the hotel. If there are no symptoms, we can self-isolate at home,” he says.
What to expect when you return to Australia
All passengers returning to Australia are subject to the Australian Government’s mandatory quarantine period of 14 days at their first Australian destination.
They are provided with suitable accommodation and meals during this period.
‘You’ll not be permitted to travel domestically (including to your home) or continue on any domestic connections, until the 14 day mandatory quarantine period has been completed,’ the Smart Traveller website states.
‘You will not incur costs as part of these quarantine arrangements.’
Returning passengers are not allowed to see their families or friends on their return to Australia.
‘We’re asking that your families don’t go to the airport or to hotels to see you.
‘We understand this is tough. But each of us is being asked to make sacrifices to save lives.’
For more information, click here.
*Name changed upon person’s request.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.
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