News National Top of the food chain: The difference between rich and poor lockdowns
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Top of the food chain: The difference between rich and poor lockdowns

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Most of us have heard the old adage: Eat to live but do not live to eat.

The wisdom behind it?

There is no need to put so much importance on eating, nor is there some higher purpose to food besides sustenance.

It’s a lesson many forced into “hard lockdown” were forced to learn after the Victorian government enforced strict quarantine measures on nine public housing estates in inner Melbourne last Sunday.

And since, troubling stories have emerged of one family receiving only four sausage rolls in 48 hours, vegetarians being served meat pies, and in one case “what looked like dog food in a plastic bag“.

Two towers remain under strict lockdown, with 237 cases linked to public housing blocks in Flemington and North Melbourne. Another 28 people have tested positive at Carlton’s public housing buildings.

While food trucks and volunteers have been dropping off plenty of supplies, last week’s controversy raised a question: How are our most vulnerable treated comparatively to returning travellers and sports stars?

Public housing

Some residents at the Flemington and North Melbourne public housing blocks have complained of meagre food rations and expired items.

Catherine’s food delivery to her apartment in a public housing estate in Melbourne.

Others are refusing to eat meals altogether.

An unknown meal delivered in a plastic bag to housing estate residents.

Some have taken to social media to share boxes of food missing items like bread or milk.

A food box without milk or bread. Photo: Patrick Crabb/Twitter

Australian hotels

Since March 28, all international travellers coming to Australia have been forced to undergo 14 days’ quarantine at hotels in major cities.

Some travellers have boasted of generous meal portions and queen-size beds, but others have compared the four or five-star hotels to “jail cells”.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day.

Depending on which hotel you are staying in, there is also an option to order food from the hotel restaurants for an added cost.

A meal at the Crown Promenade hotel in Melbourne.

Sweet treats like chocolate bars or pastries come with most meals at Australian hotels used for quarantine.

Dinner is served at the Crown Promenade hotel in Melbourne.

International hotels

Mandatory quarantine in hotels for returned travellers is not unique to Australia.

The tough rule is being enforced around the world, with many countries putting their own spin on it.

In Thailand, five Bangkok hotels are offering luxury isolation packages to citizens as an alternative to the government-funded 14-day quarantine.

The resorts are offering perks like doctors’ consultations and a wide range of dining options.

For everyone else, there are meals provided by the Thai government.

One of the meals at the Ambassador Hotel Bangkok in Thailand. Photo: Chutintorn_Sam/Twitter

Travellers arriving in India – the world’s fourth worst-hit country by the coronavirus – must also undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.

The quality of their meals depends on where they’re staying.

Some have complained to The Times of India about cockroaches in their meals, dirty toilets and no wi-fi, but others in different hotels have been satisfied with their meals.

A quarantine meal at the Hotel Ornate in Guwahati, India. Photo: SarmaKokil/Twitter

NBA lockdown

Hundreds of American professional basketball players are beginning mandatory hotel quarantine at Disneyland in Orlando before the season restarts on July 31.

Many of the elite athletes – all of whom are millionaires – were shocked when they saw the meals arriving at their hotel rooms.

A meal shared by Chris Chiozza on Instagram.

Some compared the meals to airline food and the poor offerings served at Fyre Festival.

A photo of a meal given to Troy Daniels, an NBA player for Denver Nuggets, was posted on Twitter and ignited a social media storm.

The NBA released a statement on Wednesday responding to the backlash.

“During the required quarantine period when teams first arrive to the NBA Campus at Orlando, meals are delivered directly to hotel rooms,” an NBA spokesman said.

“Each of the 22 NBA teams was paired with a Disney culinary team, who meets with each NBA team’s nutritionists regularly to create menus to support specific team needs.”