Now that COVID has escaped from inner-city hotels in four cities, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth, our governments should finally realise we need to do things differently. Otherwise our economic recovery will be jeopardised by repeated “short, sharp” lockdowns that our Chief Health Officers will regrettably recommend if they see even one case of community transmission of a mutant strain.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has tried to get her own remote quarantine program up and running near Gladstone, but her efforts have failed with the local Mayor refusing to cooperate, as reported by The Australian. Arguably, it’s time for the level of government which actually has responsibility for quarantine, the federal government, to take over, as state governments may be too financially constrained to think on the right scale of what is needed.
As regular QEW reader Paul has previously suggested, the federal government could set up dedicated quarantine facilities in remote areas, possibly near remote RAAF bases to allow for flights in and out. I quoted Paul in my post on the Grand Chancellor COVID incident and I think his comments are still relevant and worth reading. Perhaps the planning for remote federal quarantine facilities needed to start last year, and it would take the rest of 2021 to proceed from planning to procurement to construction, by which time COVID should be much less of a threat due to widespread vaccination (hopefully). We may have to make do with state-run hotel quarantine for the rest of this pandemic, but we should probably include federal quarantine facilities in remote locations in our plans for future pandemics.