‘Clear Breaches’ in Victoria’s Hotel Quarantine Program, Army Ready to Help: Federal Health Minister

July 9, 2020 Updated: July 9, 2020

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has reiterated that the Australian Defence Force is still available to assist the Victorian government in running the Melbourne hotel quarantine program after “breaches” lead to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has called for a judicial inquiry into the quarantine hotel incident that lead to a new outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

“We have offered the Australian Defence Forces. That hasn’t been taken up, but that offer remains standing, if they believe it’s required,” Hunt said in an interview with the Today Show on July 9.

Hunt said that 7 out of 8 states’ hotel quarantine programs had been “magnificent.”

“There were clear breaches in Victoria, and our task is to make sure that the standards are maintained, that we have set clear standards for Victoria,” the health minister said.

The Victorian government’s handling of the Melbourne hotel quarantine program was criticised after it emerged that private security guards flouted health and security measures, leading to community transmission of COVID-19.

Opposition Shadow Minister for Police David Southwick told Sky News on July 8: “We still have private security guards being staffed at these hotel quarantine facilities.”

Southwick has called for Victoria Police to help with managing the hotel quarantine program, and for a criminal investigation of staff working at the facilities.

“Victoria police must use their State of Emergency powers to secure these hotels, investigate these incidents and ensure no further outbreaks are allowed to occur,” he said in a media release on July 8.

The hotel quarantine program was put on hold for around two weeks starting July 2 as part of the inquiry, with flights diverted to Sydney.

Greater Melbourne went back into lockdown on July 7 for six weeks. New South Wales and Tasmania have closed their borders between the two states.