Frontline healthcare workers can access free accommodation to protect their families from COVID-19.
Frontline healthcare workers can access free accommodation to protect their families from COVID-19.

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) has welcomed a move by the NSW Government to offer free accommodation to frontline health workers which will also help to protect their families.

As part of an AUD$100 million package for the healthcare sector battling the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels and apartments located near hospitals can be used by doctors, nurses, paramedics and other hospital staff exposed to Coronavirus patients who wish to minimise risk of transmission to their own families living in the same primary residence.

The move sees New South Wales introduce a similar system to Queensland and Victoria – the latter announcing its accommodation package for frontline workers yesterday.

The plan will see local health districts work closely with staff interested in taking up the offer to ensure accommodation provided is close to their work or families, depending on individual needs. NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, said the funding will give workers an option on accommodation for when they are doing battle with the infectious disease.

“Options to protect their family and to protect themselves are critical, and now they can choose what’s best in their own circumstances without worrying about a drain on their budget,” he said.

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

TAA National CEO, Michael Johnson, said health care workers were true heroes and that it would be an honour for the accommodation sector to provide any help it can, adding that the government’s announcement could not have come at a better time.

“Accommodation hotels have already stepped up and acted as quarantine centres for travellers returning from overseas, this is another way we can help the community in these difficult times.

“It won’t see us return to full occupancy or anywhere near that, but it is a way for us to keep some staff on and for some hotels to remain open – and as I said, anything which helps our health system is worthwhile,” Johnson added.

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, welcomed the government initiative, saying it built well on similar moves by state governments in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.

“The accommodation industry is proud to provide the rooms required for these workers who are at the frontline of the efforts to protect Australians from the pandemic.

“As an industry, we are committed to service, therefore we are uniquely positioned to support the health workers and their families who are on the front line of this crisis.”