Returning international travelers could be placed into temporary housing at Geelong and Toowoomba as part of an alternative hotel quarantine proposal.
The Andrews and Palaszczuk governments are in talks with businessmen Lindsay Fox (who owns Avalon Airport) and John Wagner (Wellcamp Airport), for the communities, which could be up within six weeks and come down by the end of the year.
Under the plan each community would contain about 1000 people in rooms or cabins.
Guest would do their own cooking and cleaning and have an outdoor space.
There would be no corridors or facility-wide air conditioning.
Staff would live onsite.
Deep cleaning would be regular and onsite testing will be available.
Returning travelers need to quarantine 14 days.
The federal government, which doesn’t manage hotel quarantine but will pay for guests (then be reimbursed) is also involved in talks.
At the 1754 hectare Avalon Airport, a town would be developed walking distance from the terminal.
Two options are being considered:
- The state funds construction then manages it, or
- Mr Fox builds and runs the complex.
The first cabins could be up by winter.
Avalon is about 56 kilometres from Melbourne and half that distance to Geelong.
In 2018 the airport there starting flying international routes (story continues below).
The premier added talks are underway for a number of remote accommodation facilities, like that Mr Fox is proposing.
The Palaszczuk government has backed the Toowoomba quarantine camp but Canberra has requested more information.
This development would be a four minute drive from the airport.
Mr Wagner’s Wagner Corporation would pay to build and take down the asset; it would not seek public assistance.
The businessman said some 500 rooms could be developed by the start of April.
The facility could be complete eight weeks after that.
He would charge the same as an average city hotel.
Wellcamp – about 20 km west of Toowoomba – can also accommodate commercial flights.
Border closures, lockdowns, wouldn’t be happening if we had these: government
Queensland deputy premier Steven Miles told The Australian that had the Geelong and Toowoomba facilities been operational, the latest round of border closures “could likely have been avoided”.
Victoria wouldn’t be in lockdown if there were national facilities like this, he added.
The parties point to the federal government’s Howard Springs at Darwin as having examples of what it hopes to replicate.