Police at the QLD border checking people before they enter the state. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
Police at the QLD border checking people before they enter the state. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

‘Treated like a prisoner’: Quarantine a disaster

Forced into mandatory quarantine in Townsville, a Queensland man has blasted hotel staff, police officers and the health authorities who put him there.

Nathan Stark was returning from Victoria to Richmond, in outback Queensland, to take on a new job he now fears is up in the air because he can't get home, despite having an exemption granted before ­arriving.

He said the formal approval "wasn't worth the paper it was written on" and the quarantining process had been a disaster from the moment he landed in Townsville. "I had a border pass that said I didn't have to do quarantine because my partner and I had basically self-quarantined for two months with our newborn anyway," he said.

"Police had us standing in the airport for over two hours - they wouldn't even let us go and sit on the chairs or have a smoke. No one has a clue what's going on. Their excuse was that the rules are changing hourly."

Mr Stark said he and the other passengers were treated like criminals when forced to get into the back of a paddy wagon to be transported to Hotel Grand Chancellor, where he was charged $2800 to stay.

He has also accused police of using excessive force, saying their handling of the process defied all personal hygiene measures people were supposed to be following.

Senior Townsville Police including Chief Superintendent Craig Hanlon personally apologised to passengers after complaints of mistreatment were made public.

"I refused to get in a paddy wagon because of the close quarters," he said. "They jammed four people into one of them, with everyone basically sitting on top of each other and spreading germs - no one was wearing masks.

"They said don't be stupid or we'll arrest you. They said do what you're told or you can spend the next two weeks in the watch house by yourselves."

Mr Stark has also lashed out at hotel staff for "trying to make money off them".

Guests were given a $70 meal voucher a day to order from the room service menu but it has since been replaced with set meals and the option to pay out of pocket for anything additional.

Mr Stark said he shouldn't have to pay, given he was there "against his will" and being treated like a prisoner.

"Out of nowhere, we get a notice handed to us saying that 'due to the high demand' of people in quarantine, they have introduced set meals at set times," he said.

"If we don't answer the door at 6.30am for breakfast, they're on the phone ringing us … when you're in isolation all day, you end up watching TV and staying up late because you're not exercising and have no mental stimulation.

"All I can see is that the hotel is trying to make more money; I got this little salad the size of a coffee cup that was only three-quarters full."

Future incoming flights have been put in limbo after Premier Annastacia Palas­zczuk announced Victorians were locked out of the state from midday Friday July 10 in a bid to stop southerners fleeing the Melbourne lockdown.

Returning Queenslanders will be forced to pay for 14-days quarantine in a state government-approved hotel.

Ms Palaszczuk said exemptions would apply to Queenslanders returning from Vic­toria for essential specialist work, as well as for legal, health or compassionate grounds, but they must quarantine for 14 days at their expense. Queensland Health has been contacted for comment.


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