A plane-load of travellers from Sydney to Melbourne has been ordered to self-isolate amid COVID-19 fears, as Victoria prepares to ease lifestyle restrictions including changes to face-mask use.
All passengers from Virgin flight VA838 which landed in Melbourne at 1.25pm on December 5 have been told to quarantine at home, after two international travellers failed to quarantine in Sydney and boarded the service.
More details about how the pair avoided a mandatory fortnight in hotel quarantine are expected to be revealed on Sunday when Victorian authorities make broader announcements about easing restrictions.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has indicated that face mask guidelines will change. Masks are currently required indoors and when social distancing can’t be achieved outdoors.
“We will move to a phase where there is an even more limited use of masks in public,” he told state parliament’s public accounts and estimates committee on Friday.
Sutton said the state was ready to move to “COVID-normal”, signifying a final easing of attendance restrictions on community sport, hospitality venues, gatherings and visitors to the home.
Victoria on Sunday reported no new or active cases of coronavirus, with 8377 tests conducted in the past 24 hours. The state has been free of locally-transmitted cases for more than a month.
A revamped hotel quarantine program will be put to the test from Monday as Melbourne reopens to international arrivals.
Five international flights from Colombo, Doha, Hong Kong and Singapore are scheduled to arrive at Melbourne Airport on Monday.
Daily arrivals will be initially capped at 160 people.
The government will introduce legislation to charge for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The fees will be set at $3000 per adult, $1000 for each additional adult in a room and $500 for children aged between three and 18 years.
No security guards will be involved in the new-look program. All staff will be employed or directly contracted by the government, except cleaning staff, who are on fixed-term contracts with Alfred Health.
Hundreds of police officers will act as security as well as undertake floor monitoring in “health hotels”, which will house travellers who test positive.
Australian Defence Force personnel will support police.
Andi Yu in Melbourne