Queensland will bundle fewer domestic travellers into hotel quarantine from Friday, with the state introducing home quarantine for those arriving from interstate hotspots.
From 1am on July 30 2021, this will be available to passengers eligible to enter Queensland from Victoria and South Australia – these being current ‘hotspots’ under Queensland’s local travel restrictions – although travelling from most parts of New South Wales still requires hotel quarantine.
“I think that the risk is significantly falling down in South Australia and Victoria, so we can modify our requirement and have people quarantine at home,” Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, briefed media today.
Dr Young said the decision to allow home quarantine was influenced by very high levels of compliance with existing home quarantine requirements – such as from those identified as ‘close contacts’ of a positive COVID-19 case while already in the state.
“We also have increased compliance processes that we’re now using compared to a year ago.”
Home quarantine requires a “suitable residence”
Travellers permitted to enter Queensland from an interstate hotspot – that’s returning Queensland residents, and others granted an exemption to travel – will need a “suitable residence” for home quarantine.
Houses, townhouses and share houses are generally considered suitable, although a privately booked hotel room doesn’t qualify.
“If you were going into a hotel somewhere – outside of hotel quarantine – that wouldn’t be a suitable residence. You must have a home or appropriate residence (to be allowed) to home quarantine,” explains QLD’s Minister for Health, Yvette D’Ath.
However, those living in "apartment blocks with shared amenities" such as common lifts, stairwells or foyer areas may not qualify – and nor do those planning to stay in a caravan or tent.
Queensland Health confirms that those eligible for home quarantine aren’t confined to staying ‘indoors’, but must still remain within the bounds of their property.
This can include going “into the garden or courtyard”, as well as onto a balcony.
There will be “significant enforcement of compliance, and if anyone is found to be in breach of home quarantine, not only can they be fined but also can be required to go into hotel quarantine,” D’Ath warns.
How to get from the airport to home quarantine
Those destined for home quarantine must arrive in Queensland by air, and be living or staying within a safe two-hour driving distance from the airport.
The journey between the airport and home cannot be by public transport, such as Airtrain or SkyBus, or even rideshare or taxi.
Instead, the journey would only be possible in the traveller's own private car (such as after parking at the airport), or in a vehicle driven by a friend or family member.
Travel must be from the airport directly to the quarantine residence, with no stops along the way – "not even to get petrol", Queensland Health advises.
Once at home, you cannot leave the premises to shop, visit friends and family or to exercise, but may leave in an emergency or to take a mandatory COVID test on day 1, 5 and 12 of home quarantine.
Can you quarantine at home when living with somebody else?
Queensland does permit home quarantine at residences shared with other people – such as when only one member of a couple is returning from interstate – subject to additional restrictions.
Under the advice of Queensland Health, the traveller under home quarantine must:
- Stay in their own room, and avoid common areas where possible
- Remain at least 1.5 metres away from others
- Wear a mask when moving through shared spaces, or when in the same room as others (such as open-plan spaces)
- Avoid preparing food for others in the household, and avoid sharing household items
- Clean the house regularly, especially high-touch objects like door handles
- Cover all coughs and sneezes
- Use a separate bathroom where possible, or clean the bathroom after each use
- Wash hands regularly, and avoid touching the face
While any member of the household is under home quarantine, “you cannot allow anyone into your place of quarantine unless they live there or need to enter to provide emergency or medical care.”
Queensland’s current COVID-19 hotspots
Queensland continues to declare all of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia as ‘hotspots’ under its interstate travel restrictions.
D’Ath explained that while lockdowns in both Victoria and South Australia had now concluded, the hotspot designation remained in place because these state “continue to have a very high level of restrictions” in place locally.
All of New South Wales remains a hotspot too, but with a quarantine-free border zone in place for northern NSW, allowing residents from that zone to enter Queensland for a permitted purpose – and vice versa – such as to work or obtain medical treatment.
Travel from all other states and territories into Queensland is also permitted without home isolation or hotel quarantine, unless the traveller has attended a COVID-19 exposure site interstate.
Trial of home quarantine for international arrivals
While hotel quarantine remains mandatory in Queensland for most international arrivals, South Australia is gearing up for a trial of home quarantine for low-risk travellers from abroad.
Limited to fully-vaccinated passengers entering Australia from lower-risk countries, the trial will begin in Adelaide over the coming months, and if successful, could provide a blueprint for a broader rollout of the program.
During the trial phase, home quarantine in South Australia will “only be for South Australians wanting to return home to this state,” confirmed SA Premier Steven Marshall.
“While we will be the first jurisdiction to return South Australians through home quarantine, it is expected other states will then adopt the system.”