Home quarantine ruled out when Melbourne's overseas flights resume

Spending 14 days in home isolation, instead of paying for a mandatory hotel stay, is off the cards for now.

By David Flynn, November 26 2020
Home quarantine ruled out when Melbourne's overseas flights resume

Melbourne will begin accepting passengers from overseas next month, but they'll arrive without the hoped-for option of heading into home quarantine.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews today ruled out home-based isolation for travellers returning from "low-risk" countries where Covid-19 is  considered to be largely under control.

An interim report into Victoria's previous hotel quarantine scheme, which was considered responsible for a crippling 'second wave' outbreak, suggested a 'hybrid model' of hotel and home quarantine depending on where inbound passengers had come from.

However, Andrews says he will play it safe by continuing with traveller quarantine at selected hotels, as remains the practice around Australia.

"Having some novel approach in Victoria, which would almost certainly mean that other states were not comfortable with the arrangements, and therefore would close the borders, I think we're going to have a hotel-based system," Andrews confirmed, "but it will look and be different to what it was last time."

That said, Andrews indicated that some states favour the home quarantine option, and this could well be introduced once there's wider agreement on the issue.

"The Prime Minister and other first ministers made it clear that there is not a consensus, there is not a view at national cabinet level that home quarantine is an appropriate response to the risk we face at the moment," Andrews said.

International flights to Melbourne will restart on December 7 with an initial cap of 160 passengers a day or 1,120 per week.

By comparison, Sydney currently accepts 2,950 passengers per week, with around 1,000 per week at Brisbane and Perth. 

Getting the green light

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested that a ‘traffic light’ system could rank nations according to how they were tracking with Covid-19 infections, and in turn be allow international arrivals from low-risk countries able to isolate at home rather than paying for a hotel.

Passengers coming from ‘red’ countries and regions would continue to spend a fortnight in hotel isolation, while arrivals from ‘amber’ destinations may be allowed to quarantine at home.

Entry from a country or territory zoned ‘green’ would not require any quarantine period – as is now the case for travellers arriving from New Zealand into selected Australian airports – and would also apply to  two-way 'travel bubbles', provided the passenger hasn't visited any ‘amber’ or ‘red’ destinations in the previous 14 days.

Smartphones or electronic wristbands would be used to help enforce home quarantine.

Lightweight GPS-enabled bracelets are already used in a number of countries including Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.

They typically connect to a smartphone app and are used to make sure people actually stay at home by reporting the wearer's location to a government monitoring service.

Singapore's wristband, which also generates an alert if it has been removed or tampered with, is complemented by a program under which the wearer receives text messages, phone calls and sometimes even video calls from the country's health agency, which must be responded to.

Read more: Government considers electronic wristbands for home isolation


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 247

Disappointing. Hotel quarantine has proven to be both inhumane and problematic. Even murderers and pedophiles in prison are allowed fresh air, yet returning travellers are confined to a room even though ~99% do not have Covid.

Not to mention in Adelaide at least two people contracted Covid due to being in hotel quarantine. These people would not have caught it had they been allowed to quarantine at home. Won't even comment on the debacle that occurred in Melbourne. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 118

The issue isn’t whether it was or want contracted in a hotel or outside thereof, the issue is that people can’t be trusted. Even those that were meant to be isolating due to positive results or potential positive awaiting results were spotted outside and not following medical directions. They are the reason that governments are wary. Other countries don’t have these problems because their citizens listen and follow the rules regardless of their belief. 

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 247

Perhaps the government should then lead by example in their behaviour instead of being wary and implementing a one-size-fits-all collective punishment? 

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1014

The issue with that idea is that it blames travelers who might have Covid while letting people who do have Covid, but caught it locally, stay at home.

A small percentage of people can't be trusted. Why blame everyone else who can be?

Canberra has had a 99.9% compliance with home quarantine requirements. Other areas have had 85% or better compliance.

People should be able to isolate at home, except in cases where they can't or won't.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 531

I fully agree, but that's not how governments think. It's usually one person does something wrong and there is collective punishment for the rest of us.

big question I have is ..... if Australians fly into SYD from overseas (friends just got reasonable fares from USA via NZ) before Xmas, can they immediately get a flight to Brisbane, or must they quarantine in SYD ?

Can't seem to find current info anywhere & have looked at lots of govt websites.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Aug 2013

Total posts 24

Wouldnt they have to Quarantine in NZ for 2 weeks on arrival from the US, if thats the case you would think they would be treated the same as anyone else coming from NZ.  There are rules I have seen about where you have been in the last 14 days when travelling, I would assume ( I know never assume) this covered it.


apparently they can transit in Auckland for up to 24 hours. They can't leave the airport.

07 Jan 2014

Total posts 41

You quarantine at the first port of arrival into Australia, in this case Sydney.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 531

Umm, aren't all arrivals to South Korea required to undergo a 14 day hotel quarantine? Therefore, the wristband thing makes little sense there given no one is quarantining at home. For Singapore, home quarantine is indeed an option for a lot of nationalities now. For Hong Kong, I think very few countries are allowed to quarantine at home. Most require hotel quarantine. Singapore is one exception with the upcoming travel bubble.

As for Australia, having a state specific policy seems interesting; but I'd be surprised if it happens. I think they will continue with the hotel option for as long as they can, which is in line with what other countries are doing.

Other countries have now strengthened their quarantine requirements, with Cambodia requiring a 14 day facility quarantine for all arrivals (hotel for foreigners, quarantine camp for locals) with the exception of short-term business travelers who can quarantine at home after the first 2 days in government "custody" provided they test negative.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Sep 2013

Total posts 188

It’s not the ‘low risk’ countries I’m worried about, its the ‘high risk’ clowns who would invariably break the rules.  I would imagine that the many that have flown the coop from hotel isolation were most likely to have come from ‘low risk’ countries.  Choices were made months ago by these people who knew the rules prior to leaving.  Please conform.

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

No surprises there. The mandatory quarantine detention will remain for a long time to come. With or without vaccine. Just gotta get use to the idea. It's the new normal for 2021.

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