Notes from a COVID-19 captive

Do five stars make a difference when you’re in COVID-19 quarantine? Our travel insider – who prefers to remain anonymous – reveals all.

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Locked up with no fresh air or exercise.

We became stranded overseas when the world went mad.

Our arrival in Melbourne was a whole new experience.

Hundreds of staff lined the passage: border force, police, medical staff, customs, immigration, government officials. We were read our responsibilities; it seemed we had no rights and certainly no choice in our movement from here on. We were required to wear masks.

Under constant supervision, we were ushered onto SkyBuses to make the journey.

In the hotel lobby, we were read our responsibilities again and signed our lives away after being reminded of the severe penalties we would incur for not complying.

The room was spacious enough to allow for a couch, desk, king-size bed (there are two of us), an open bathroom (terrible) and one chair, although housekeeping did bring another chair on request.

Our view was the skyline to the north-east, which did give us something to look at.

looking out a window

From here on it was a very long haul. The days were long, interrupted only by meals. We were not permitted out of our rooms at any time. Security guards were in the passage all the time.

No opening windows, and any exercise was 14 steps from the door to the window.

Being confined in a small space is not a pleasant experience. I started jogging on the spot (boring) and doing yoga or Pilates, the husband paced back and forth reading. 

Life settled into breakfast lunch and dinner, all appearing in brown bags at your door. The food was good mostly. Breakfast was always the same, two hard-boiled eggs, two pieces of fruit, yoghurt, muesli bar and a brown bag of three small pastries and a bottle of juice. Lunch was soups, salads, warm evening meal in foil and a delicious dessert. No complaints except there was too much food.

We would get a welfare check sometimes. A person would call to say, ‘How can we make things easier for you?’

Some folk found this level of restriction and the lack of fresh air very distressing. If you caused problems, government officials and security were quickly around to be forceful. We heard domestic disputes, swearing and pounding on the windows, but in general we were kept in a bubble unaware of anything except our own space.

Finally, Easter Sunday arrived, release day. A text at 1pm notified our taxi had arrived. No, wait in your room until security escorts you down. After three-and-a-half hours, I call again. No, we are releasing people floor by floor, we have no idea what that means, how many floors? Are we the last or in the middle? Finally, at 6pm join another queue to get to the lobby, forget social distancing. Paperwork, sign here, go to taxi. By this stage, it was chaotic, and they just wanted everyone out. Our random taxi driver, who heard there was work going at our hotel, delivered us home. He was happy, he hadn’t had much work, and we were in a disassociated state after being removed from the world for 15 days.

Do you know anyone who has undergone a 14-day total isolation?

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