A Liberal MP says he is ‘nervous’ about the state’s hotel quarantine system a week before Victoria reopens to international travel.
A Liberal MP says he is ‘nervous’ about the state’s hotel quarantine system a week before Victoria reopens to international travel.

What has this Liberal MP nervous

The Victorian opposition has said the Andrews government should pay NSW to run its embattled hotel quarantine, week ahead of the state reopening the scheme to international travel.

Victoria will reboot the program next Thursday, April 8, accepting 800 international travellers per week.

Acting Premier James Merlino last week said the state had addressed serious issues in the system, installing and upgrading improved ventilation and other safety protocols across Melbourne hotels.

Melbourne Airport prepares for the return of international flights when COVID restrictions are eased. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
Melbourne Airport prepares for the return of international flights when COVID restrictions are eased. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

But Liberal MP Tim Smith said he was sceptical enough had been done to protect the state, based on flaws in last year's system.

The government last November stated it had the "strongest and safest" hotel quarantine system in the country, mere months before a traveller with a nebuliser infected several workers at the Holiday Inn, prompting the state's five-day lockdown in February.

"I'm nervous about flights resuming on Thursday because this government has for the best part of a year completely stuffed up hotel quarantine," Mr Smith said.

Victorian MP Tim Smith is nervous about international flights returning. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross
Victorian MP Tim Smith is nervous about international flights returning. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross

"I would've thought that the easiest and the safest thing for Victoria to do would be to pay NSW to do it for us."

Flaws in Victoria's hotel quarantine system last year led to a deadly second wave that resulted in 800 deaths and a 112-day lockdown in the state, leaving the economy and Victorians reeling.

The hotel at the centre of Melbourne's last COVID-19 outbreak in February resumed operating this week.

The Holiday Inn was shut down after the cluster emerged, but authorities say upgrades have been made to its ventilation system, which was thought to be the cause of the outbreak.

Medical staff wearing PPE outside the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
Medical staff wearing PPE outside the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Last month, Mr Merlino said the state's hotel quarantine system had been strengthened, following a comprehensive review into the management of new highly infectious and rapidly changing variants of coronavirus.

"We've taken the action and time necessary to ensure we have the most rigorous quarantine system possible in place to protect against these highly infectious, rapidly changing variants of concern," he said.

Acting Premier James Merlino says the state’s hotel quarantine system has been strengthened. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Matray
Acting Premier James Merlino says the state’s hotel quarantine system has been strengthened. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Matray

New changes to the hotel quarantine system include improvements to ventilation across dozens of hotels, with other recommended improvements including better screening to detect medical devices and a doubling of resident testing and day-14 testing.

Mr Smith also called on the government to declare Greater Brisbane an orange zone to not inconvenience travellers over Easter.

"Queensland is ending its lockdown today, I therefore would expect Victoria not regard Brisbane as a red zone," he said.

The Victorian government is working on advice about what Brisbane's lockdown means for travel into Victoria over the long weekend.

Originally published as What has Victorian MP nervous


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