Drastic plan considered for travellers

 

The Victorian government is reportedly considering using GPS trackers to help monitor returned travellers when the state starts accepting international flights again.

The electronic monitoring devices would be used to make sure some overseas travellers were isolating at home when they returned to Australia, The Agereports.

A senior Health Department official and a government spokeswoman told the newspaper that talks were underway in both Victoria's Justice and Health departments to assess the merits of GPS tracking wristbands.

It's not expected that the trackers will replace hotel quarantine program entirely with talks underway with arrangements being made to restart the program.

The Age reported that Premier Daniel Andrews was personally involved in the discussions as Victoria comes under pressure to start accepting travellers from overseas again.

Victoria's hotel quarantine was overhauled and largely shut down in July when it was revealed it had seeded a second wave of coronavirus that has led to 20,000 infections and 800 deaths.

 

Victoria Police Protective Service Officers monitoring hotel quarantine guests at the Novotel South Wharf. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
Victoria Police Protective Service Officers monitoring hotel quarantine guests at the Novotel South Wharf. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

 

The state's program hasn't taken any new overseas arrivals - other than those with an exemption such as health and maritime workers - since an inquiry was announced in June, but some hotels had been providing quarantine for vulnerable community members who cannot safely isolate at home.

It comes as the Hotel Quarantine Board of Inquiry chaired by retired judge Jennifer Coate prepares to hold an extraordinary sitting after emails emerged that had not been disclosed to the inquiry.

Ms Coate will use Tuesday's sitting to outline her next steps, which could see the November 6 final report deadline pushed back.

 

Premier Daniel Andrews gives evidence to the hotel quarantine inquiry. Picture: COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry via NCA NewsWire
Premier Daniel Andrews gives evidence to the hotel quarantine inquiry. Picture: COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry via NCA NewsWire

 

The inquiry has already resulted in two senior state government figures resigning from their positions - Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles.

The Age also reported Victorian officials were in talks with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which was composed of all state and territory chief health officers and chaired by Australia's Chief Medical Officer, about using the GPS devices.

It comes after 65 travellers from New Zealand entered Victoria last week after a travel bubble opened without hotel quarantine requirements between our Tasman neighbours and New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services has contacted 55 of the 65 travellers to make sure they were aware of the state's delicate coronavirus predicament.

jack.paynter@news.com.au

Originally published as Drastic plan considered for travellers


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