NSW Police on Tuesday were working to move 366 overseas arrivals from their hotel quarantine at Travelodge Hotel Sydney after reports guests were having panic attacks over “unhygienic” rooms.
The operation was expected to take 12 hours to complete.
“Hotels that do not meet the expectations are rotated out of the hotels roster,” NSW Police told HuffPost Australia.
“NSW Police ascertained that one such hotel did not meet the expectations required as part of the quarantine program. A decision was made to relocate all 366 guests to another, more suitable accommodation.”
Returning Australians have been calling for a reevaluation of hotel quarantine facilities after arriving to what guests described as “filthy” rooms with “sticky handles” and “clumps of someone else’s hair” on surfaces. Arrivals that booked their travel after the July deadline have to foot the $3000 bill for hotel quarantine themselves.
Expat Lauren Farmer launched a campaign to help other Travelodge guests move facilities and have the Travelodge removed from Sydney’s coronavirus quarantine program after arriving in her room on Friday where she became “distraught” by the state of the accommodation.
“The floor in the bathroom was covered in grime and dirt, I couldn’t take a shower. The handles and tables were all sticky,” Farmer, who is back in Sydney to apply for a UK spousal visa, told HuffPost Australia via phone.
After sending pictures of her room to the hotel’s reception, cleaners in full PPE recleaned the room although Farmer was still distressed about the food quality and only 15 minutes of sunlight that hit her room per day.
After complaining to nurses, members of parliament, reception and the police, Farmer ended up being moved from Travelodge on Monday, a first for a guest in NSW hotel quarantine.
“I’ve never fought for anything that hard in my life,” she said. “That may sound dramatic but I was really in such a mental state - I had to.”
After other Travelodge guests shared their experiences with the Australians In Quarantine Facilities Facebook group, Farmer launched a bespoke group Travelodge Wentworth Quarantine Family, for guests to vent.
One guest wrote that she had a “panic attack” and “couldn’t stop crying” after arriving. Another posted that they found “toenail clippings on the floor” when they moved the bed to make more space.
Travelodge confirmed to HuffPost Australia all rooms are deep cleaned thoroughly before and after guest use and that cleaning protocols have been enhanced during the pandemic to above World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.
We have a rigorous process that we follow,” a Travelodge Hotel spokesperson said.
“We have apologised profusely to Ms Farmer for the errant hair and the residue cleaning powder on her carpet (from where our housekeeping team had cleaned the walls). That is certainly not the standard we pride ourselves on and, as soon as we were alerted, we did everything we could to safely rectify the situation.
“We ensured the medical team stationed at the hotel were aware of Ms Farmer’s heightened anxiety, and our Hotel Manager conducted a welfare check and provided Ms Farmer with his mobile number should she need anything.”