Returning Australians undergoing hotel quarantine in Queensland rooms without balconies or open windows have suddenly had their 45 minutes a day of fresh air breaks suspended.
Scores of hotel quarantine guests were “apologetically” told on Monday morning by police there would no longer be fresh air break after new directives from Queensland Health.
Christopher Laughlin, who is in the Mercure in Brisbane with his pregnant wife and three-year-old son in a room with no openable windows and no balcony, said the three or four breaks a day were many people’s lifeline in quarantine.
“We’re fortunate that we’re on day 10, so we’ll be okay,” said Mr Laughlin, who has returned to Australia from the United States.
“Fourteen days completely locked up would have been rough, especially for our son.”
Nicole Prance is three days in after returning from London and is staying at the Westin Brisbane, and said she was five minutes into her break on Monday when she was dealt the blow.
“It seems this message has been sent to all hotels, but for now we are in the dark as to why,” she told NCA NewsWire.
“We were allowed three breaks, morning, afternoon and night for 15 minutes.
“The breaks really helped with the day, especially when (staying) alone.”
Another person in quarantine warned of the mental health challenges of life stuck inside a room, particularly for those spending 14 days alone.
“There are toddlers and solo people in here, and the implications on mental health are worrying,” the traveller wrote.
Queensland Police confirmed the change in policy had come after the health department advised them of “significant infection risks” related to the fresh air breaks.
“The chief health officer advised that Queensland Health does not support the provision of fresh air breaks during quarantine as they pose a risk to the public health and safety of all persons involved,” a spokesman said.
He said there were some exceptional circumstances where they would be allowed.
“In these instances, police officers will engage with Queensland Health to determine whether a fresh air break is appropriate and the safest way for it to be conducted,” the spokesman said.
“A number of hotel quarantine venues have been operating in this manner for some time and the guidance seeks to ensure consistency throughout the statewide operation.”