‘People went nuts’: Melbourne hotel chaos


Poorly trained security guards who became overwhelmed by hysterical guests may have been responsible for how COVID-19 escaped into the wider community.

This week's independent inquiry is expected to hear evidence that guests were begging, banging on walls and even attempting to bribe security guards to let them out for fresh air.

A guest from the Rydges Hotel, which was one of the first to take quarantine travellers, told The Australian "people were going absolutely nuts" on his floor of the hotel, saying they were "asking for Valium" and "begging to be let out and running for the doors".

He said guards seem ill-equipped to handle the situation. "They were being told no, but the guards had no real authority … they gave the impression they could be talked around. And guests were going up to the security guards, begging and offering money to be let out. It was insane."

Some guests reportedly advised each other to "lose your sh*t, cry" in order to get outside.

Security breaches in six Melbourne hotels are under a harsh spotlight, with accusations that the hotel security assignment was poorly organised and guards were neither trained nor vetted closely.

The use of industry subcontractors, who recruited security guards for the hotels, has also come under criticism.

Public hearings of the inquiry begin on Thursday.

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