Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, addressing the media on COVID-19.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has thrown a lifeline of sorts to the nation’s hotel sector by announcing all inbound arrivals from land and sea will spend two weeks isolated in hotels and other accommodation under military escort.

Effective from 11:59pm on 28 March 2020, the Australian Defence Force will escort arrivals to a hotel room or similar form of accommodation, where they will be housed and fed at no cost to them but with their movements restricted and enforced by state police forces.

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, says there are still between 1,300 and 2,000 people arriving into Melbourne each day but that this number is expected to drop. He added there are around 5,000 hotel rooms on standby to facilitate the new rule.

Tourism Accommodation Australia, Michael Johnson, said Australian hotels stand ready to facilitate the quarantining of arrivals and that many properties had expressed interest in playing such a role. He said planning had been underway with state and territory leaders over the past week to ensure arrangements are promptly made with available properties.

“Hotels across Australia have the capacity to play a central role in ensuring guests and local residents arriving into Australia are quarantined effectively, which will help arrest the spread of COVID-19.”

L-R Dean Long, AAoA and Michael Johnson, TAA

Johnson added today’s move will greatly assist an industry which has faced “unprecedented challenges” in recent months.

“Tourism Accommodation Australia will work closely with State and Territory Government as well as Australia’s accommodation providers to ensure arrangements are made immediately to accommodate incoming arrivals.”

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, said it had worked with all state health departments and the industry to ensure hotels wishing to take part in this scheme had every opportunity to do so.

“The Accommodation Association was inundated this week with members wanting to do their part to help Australia navigate this health crisis. All Governments have put out the call and our sector is responding so Australia can get through this as we stop the spread.”