A hotel guest in the room above me is jump-exercising for several minutes now. I just finished my belly dancing and push-ups routine. “Hope the people in the room bellow are not trying to nap”, I’m thinking. This is the life in hotel quarantine in Australia.
The best feature of my five-star hotel quarantine is not the service, the comfortable bed or the big bathroom. It’s the “eye”.
Thank God for the view!
A full-wall window that is like a theatre scene for me to watch the days pass. From the pink dawns to the orange sunsets, and the clouds chasing each other in the competition who will be the first to start the rain. My hotel quarantine days are full of colours indeed.
You might think that a rainy day is grey and ugly. Not from my 21st-floor hotel room. Looking the raindrops flowing down the window, I hear The Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in my head.
And then, there are the people. Walking in the streets under the rain or sitting in the outdoor restaurant under my feet when it doesn’t rain. And the ones who stare at their laptops in the office building in front of me. Or the policewomen and men I can recognize by their blue uniforms.
The only thing I will miss from my quarantine period is this view. It is addictive. I love Perth. Looking at the world with a cup of coffee in my hand I think: “Thank you, Perth, for being such a great place to live!”
This view is one of the things that kept me sane during my hotel quarantine in Australia. I know from friends that their hotel quarantines had similar panorama windows in the heart of Melbourne and Sydney. My bet is the Department of Health knew that it will be crucial for the people not to develop claustrophobia during the two weeks confinement.
Arriving at Perth Airport during the mandatory quarantine
I arrived in Perth on the 4th of June 2020. There were very few travellers and we were all channelled through border checks and filling a bunch of declarations to streamline the process of our entrance. I believe we were all returning citizens, permanent residents or immediate members of such, as per the current border restrictions.
After a medical check that included quick questioning and temperature screening, we were directed to a police officer to process our documents and assign us to a hotel. After a short wait, we were guided to buses waiting for us outside the terminal. Within a half an hour and under a police convoy, the four busses travelled to the very centre of Perth. I was quarantined at The Westin Perth.
The check-in was quick and painless. At the temporary reception booth, the staff gave us printed information on how exactly the hotel quarantine will work and answered the questions we had. They also asked if we had any food allergies or preferences.
This didn’t last more than two minutes and was followed by going directly to the designated room through the service elevator located far from the official hotel lobby. At all the times we were accompanied by security guards.
In the days that followed, I noticed that there are security guards always present in the hotel corridors. In Western Australia, you can face a fine up to fifty thousand dollars if you break your quarantine.
Hotel quarantine is much more challenging than stay-at-home quarantine
I didn’t expect that the hotel quarantine in Australia will be so hard for me. I have introverted nature and spend a lot of time in a semi-self-isolation as a person working from home. This experience challenged me physically more than mentally. I kept busying my brain by working on my websites, writing, talking to family and friends, reading books… But the recycled air in the hotel room prevented me to keep physically active enough. This is why it took me one week to recover after I got out. It felt just like recovering from a sickness.
The most difficult, however, was the waiting on the check-out day. I was given exact time and had to wait until 6 pm. Together with people from other eighty rooms, we stumbled in the corridors and walked like ghosts. We all moved slowly but expressed our excitement with sympathetic smiles. We went through this together and survived it!
More than sixty thousand people have been hotel quarantined in Australia so far. In my opinion, it is an effective way to keep the virus from spreading. But it is a costly measure for the Australian government. So far, more than $100 million were spent and because of that, the local governments are considering to require in the future the travellers to cover their hotel quarantine expenses.