Could hotel guards’ bag bungle have led to spread?


Security guards routinely handled guests' bags against health advice at some of Melbourne's quarantine hotels.

The Herald Sun has been told by multiple sources who were working at the hotels that some private guards had no qualms about carrying suitcases and bags from airport buses through hotel foyers and up to rooms.

They were exposing themselves to contamination as they tried to welcome the potentially coronavirus-infected returned travellers.

Those who saw what was going on said the guards should have got the passengers to take their own bags up to their rooms.

It is expected the widespread handling of baggage by security will emerge as one of many shortcomings in the quarantine hotels when an inquiry into its handling convenes.

Getting passengers their luggage to rooms quickly, rather than hygiene, appeared to be number one priority, some who were working the hotels say.

"These guys were running it like a corporate gig, not a public health gig," one source said.

"At normal times, that's fantastic."

The Herald Sun has been told some of the guards were subcontracted, badly advised and poorly supervised.

"You could tell they'd got some of these people out of a Weeties pack," the source said.

The latest hotel quarantine revelation came as Health Minister Jenny Mikakos hit back at the lack of answers about the saga, saying there was no way she could "single-handedly" report on all parties involved in the state's COVID-19 response.

Rydges Hotel in Carlton was one of several used to quarantine returned travellers. Picture: Wayne Taylor
Rydges Hotel in Carlton was one of several used to quarantine returned travellers. Picture: Wayne Taylor

She said the response was "continually evolving", aided by thousands of healthcare workers and other groups since the pandemic began, but there was "no doubt" mistakes were made along the way.

In a series of tweets, Ms Mikakos apologised for any perceived lack of effort, stating: "Since that fateful day on 25 January, when we had our first-ever case, I've worked every day to keep everyone safe.

"I have put every ounce of energy I've had into that effort.

"If it wasn't enough, then I'm deeply sorry."

Ms Mikakos finished by asking for the "independent judge to do her job."

"Let the cards fall where they may," she said.

"I believe there is nothing to fear in seeking the truth. The truth will set you free."

Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday said he was yet to speak with Ms Mikakos and hadn't read her tweets in full.

But he said she was "a very strong person" and his team was working as hard as it could.

Opposition leader Michael O'Brien said Victorians didn't want ministers engaging in self pity but answers.

"They don't want Twitter apologies - they want the truth and we still don't have the truth from the Health Minister about how they got hotel quarantine so wrong,'' he said.


Originally published as Could hotel guards' bag bungle have led to spread?