‘Cruel’: Aussies charged extra for fresh air
Australians stuck in hotel quarantine are being slugged up to $1400 for the privilege of fresh air during their quarantine stays, which already start at $3000.
Returned overseas travellers pay the New South Wales government a standard minimum fee of $3000 to stay at the hotels serving as quarantine facilities, such as the Meriton, Radisson Blu or Sheraton.
But rooms with balconies or access to fresh air are not among the conditions the hotels are obliged to provide.
Queenslander Eliza Kruger, who returned from the US in November, paid an extra $500 for a tiny balcony at the Radisson Blu in Sydney in November.
Ms Kruger, 34, said while she could afford it, she was troubled the extra charge would lock out those less fortunate.
"It is outrageous that access to fresh air is only available to those who can afford it," Ms Kruger told NCA NewsWire.
"For many, the cost to return home is financially catastrophic, charging even more for access to fresh air is cruel.
"I estimated my flight and hotel quarantine cost $8600 for one person. For families or those coming from places with fewer flights, the cost can be many times higher."
Ms Kruger even emailed her local member in QLD, Ted O'Brien, to express her concerns.
"The Australian government needs to balance protecting Australia from COVID-19 with the health and safety of returning Australians," Ms Kruger said.
"The current system of 14 days of hotel quarantine for every returning traveller, despite testing negative many times, is not the solution."
Radha Govil, a lawyer in Switzerland for the United Nations, told the ABC she paid $1,400 for a room with a balcony during her quarantine at the Meriton Suites on Sussex Street in Sydney in November.
Ms Govil and her husband had already paid $4000 (the charge for two adults) but needed fresh air for their seven-month-old baby. Ms Govil was later given a $400 discount from Meriton.
Professional golfer Travis Smyth is currently in quarantine in Sydney's Sheraton hotel after returning from playing in the US for upcoming Australian tournaments.
He is unable to open the windows in his room and has no access to fresh air.
Smyth does not think it is unfair to charge extra for a room with a balcony.
"I don't think so; the rate works out to be $215 a night and I wouldn't normally get a balcony for that price anyway," he told NCA NewsWire.
However he pointed out it was not always available even for those willing to pay. "Nothing is available until my last four days in here and I'm not sure if I'll switch rooms," he said.
Originally published as 'Cruel': Aussies slugged extra for fresh air