A week or so ago a video came out where a bunch of Hollywood celebs marked the global COVID-19 pandemic by forlornly singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
As they crooned the lyrics “imagine no possessions” from their Beverly Hills mansions, temperatures around the world shot up, and it wasn’t because we were infected with coronavirus. We were infected with seething jealousy that these sad-faced A-listers were seeming to bemoan their quarantine days in the lap of luxury, while many of us were bouncing off the walls in a dwelling smaller than Natalie Portman’s bathroom.
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Yesterday a similar strain of envy reared its head when thousands of international travellers returning to Australia by plane and ship were escorted to see out their compulsory 14-day quarantine in a “makeshift quarantine facility” – otherwise known as a randomly allocated hotel, with the room tab picked up by the Government and a military dude standing near your door.
But as the weary travellers soon discovered, not all makeshift quarantine facilities are created equal.
Some people were sent to the five-star Intercontinental hotel to drink in sparkling views of Sydney Harbour. Others were allocated the budget Ibis Darling Harbour (which let’s face it, is in Pyrmont). The latter began to wonder how they had managed to upset the quarantine gods and cop the Ibis over the InterCon.
The ABC news had snippets of an older gent quarantined in the Ibis saying “these conditions are so basic”, which makes him sound like a moody Millennial if you read it in the right tone.
Another chap posted on Facebook that he “got the short end of the straw”.
We like to think the Reddit video below shows someone who hasn’t been able to cop 12 hours at the Ibis and has made a run for it only to be tackled by police. It’s like The Shawshank Redemption but less moving … and set in Pyrmont.
But is it really all that bad?
Let’s go to TripAdvisor, where all disgruntled boomers go to let off steam.
On March 15, Manuel C from Canada wrote that the Ibis Pyrmont “is not a hotel for normal people Dis is a DISGUTING Hotel” (sic). But to be fair, the vast majority of recent complaints are about the hotel’s price, which is not something the quarantine guests have to concern themselves with.
It’s worth noting that it’s not only Ibis residents getting snippy.
Lara Worthington tweeted images of a hotel bedroom in Sydney’s inner west that her 63-year-old mother has been sent to isolate in, saying it was “unacceptable”.
People who had been sent to the more up-market Swissotel in Sydney’s CBD were having a grizzle too, and they quickly copped backlash on social media.
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, who has been tasked with handling the New South Wales coronavirus response, has had just about enough of listening to the complaints. He acknowledged that being in lockdown for two weeks was a bit of a bummer but dismissed the gripes about the hotel accommodation, saying “there are people after the bushfires still living in tents and caravans” … which is a stunningly strong point. But it also reminds us of when mum used to tell you “there are people starving in Africa” when you wouldn’t finish your dinner.
Speaking of dinner, the three free meals being provided each day has also been a source of dismay for many.
This tweet from a lady complaining about the care pack she was given on arrival also got a lot of attention (to be fair, she’s been out of the country and may be unaware that she could possibly exchange those rolls of toilet paper for 900 squeezy yoghurts on the black market).
On Facebook, a returned traveller said her Deliveroo delivery had been rejected by the hotel as it had been deemed a health risk.
“There are three security guards on each floor, police guarding the entrance to the hotel and NOW (sic) we are not allowed to have anything delivered,” she wrote on Friday.
“Prisoners get treated better than we do.”
Another returned traveller at the Swissotel said the arrivals were “prisoners and refugees within our own country” and had been stripped of their “human right and constitutional rights”. To which many people on social media responded “send them to Christmas Island for an undetermined time longer than 14 days so they can see how it compares”.
Finally, let’s take a look at this chap’s post about quarantine conditions in China, which really puts things into perspective. I would dearly love Manuel C from Canada to visit these particular digs and review on TripAdvisor.