Some returned Australians undergoing mandatory 14-day isolation in hotels have boasted of generous meal portions and queen-size beds, countering complaints from fellow travellers.
Hundreds of Australians who returned home after midnight on Saturday have been put up in capital city hotels, where they are being forced to wait out two weeks’ quarantine under tough coronavirus laws.
Many are staying at four or five-star hotels like Crown Promenade and Swissotel, but some say they are “being treated like criminals” and fear for their mental health.
In Sydney, the manager of the Wentworth Avenue Travelodge received so many complaints that he issued an announcement on Wednesday urging travellers to show respect to hotel staff during their quarantine.
“We are not prison wardens,” he told his guests.
Most of those complaining are staying at hotels in Sydney, while other travellers in Melbourne are leaving positive reviews.
Patrick Zippel, 28, had been living in the Swiss alpine town of Engelberg before flying home to be with family amid escalating border restrictions.
He arrived at his Crown Promenade hotel room on March 31, where he found two queen-size beds, a TV, an ensuite and a “nice view of Melbourne”.
He said he had “no sympathy” for fellow travellers forced to undergo two weeks of quarantine in a hotel.
“To those people who are complaining, saying ‘Oh we’re in a prison cell’, well you should be in the same situation if you were returning and going home anyway,” Mr Zippel said.
“Coming from Europe, where the situation is more dire and harder measures are in place, my attitude is people aren’t taking it seriously here yet because they haven’t seen the direct consequences of (the coronavirus).”
He said hotel staff were “bringing us more food than we can eat”, adding guests could buy alcohol or order from a separate menu if they preferred to pay for dishes from Crown restaurants.
He said the only frustrating part was being unable to breathe fresh air and exercise outside.
Families and friends are not allowed to deliver care packages to guests, either.
Ben Michowski, 27, who has nine more days left of quarantine at Crown in Melbourne after returning from the United States, said he believed most of the complaints were unwarranted.
“I could think of a thousand scenarios that could be worse,” Mr Michowski told The New Daily.
“I think overall, the complaints aren’t that valid considering the whole globe needs to do their part to stop the spread of the virus.
“To be taken care of in this way, when all you need to do is nothing, it’s not that big of an ask … I’m probably a bit more easygoing. Maybe they’re really rich and not used to it.”
Recruiter Isabelle Campbell, 26, is five days into quarantine at Crown Towers after flying home from London.
“It’s a really nice room with a massive view, but you can’t open the windows – that’s the worst part,” Ms Campbell said.
“I think we’re lucky we ended up here. Other people have it way worse.
“If I didn’t have a window or if it was a much smaller room, I’d probably get really claustrophobic and I’d be freaking out.”
Melbourne’s high-security welcome
Security measures have ramped up dramatically at Melbourne Airport in the fight against COVID-19.
Upon arrival, passengers were greeted by Australian Border Force officers and had their temperatures scanned by officials wearing hazmat suits, Mr Zippel said.
Passengers were then given information leaflets, dietary requirement forms to fill out, and a lunchbox of food to eat during the 30-minute SkyBus journey to Crown casino in the CBD.
“Everywhere we were, there were police making sure we didn’t leg it,” Mr Zippel said of his arrival in Melbourne.
“When the SkyBus drove from the airport to Melbourne, we had a police car trailing us the whole way.”