More than 70,000 Australians have passed through hotel quarantine since 27 March, a two-week period some have described as akin to jail.
But not all returned travellers have been subjected to the 14 day stay, with at least 40 who have skipped Queensland hotel quarantine to isolate at home, Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles revealed.
Questioned following reports that Dannii Minogue was isolating in her Gold Coast home, Miles said the option to isolate at home was open to anyone who can cover the health monitoring, testing and security costs equal to those provided in hotel quarantine.
“We’ve had a small number of people apply to pay for their own quarantine provided by a third party, a trusted third party, a contractor. And that’s what happened in this case. I understand there’s been about 40 of these approvals, the applicant has to fund them for their own expense, they have to provide security and surveillance, medical attention and testing, so it’s not cheap,” Miles told ABC Radio National this morning.
“These requests are assessed by our chief medical officer independently and she assesses them purely on the health and safety aspects.”
He said this wasn’t a case of special treatment for Australia’s wealthy as quarantine wasn’t a punishment but a public health issue.
“I understand people saying that [it is special treatment],” Miles said.
“The intent of our quarantine isn’t to punish people for coming here, it’s to keep the community safe. And if people can put in place arrangements that satisfies our chief health officer that it would keep the community safe then that meets the objective of the policy,” Miles said.
Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young confirmed Minogue had a COVID-safe plan which was managed by an independent third party.
Under the plan, the isolator needs to provide evidence that they will not be coming into contact with the community as well as the same or greater levels of health supports and testing that would exist in hotel quarantine.
“She is funding all of those arrangements,” Young said.
Australians entering hotel quarantine in NSW and South Australia will now be required to pay $3,000 to cover the cost of their stay, while in Queensland it costs $2,800.
NSW Health states that returned international travellers do not have the option to quarantine at home.
“There are special circumstances where a person could be exempt from the Public Health Order and able to self-isolate at home. Exemptions are only considered where there are strong medical, health or compassionate grounds, or the person is transiting out of NSW to an international destination other than a Pacific Island country,” it states.
The Northern Territory charges arrivals $2,500 a fortnight, while Western Australia has said it will begin charging as of 17 July but has not yet included a pricing scale.
Victoria has closed off its borders to international travellers as it battles surging cases, many linked to hotel quarantine failures.