Victoria’s COVID-19 quarantine hotels will close within weeks as a purpose-built quarantine centre at Mickleham begins operations.
The state’s quarantine agency CQV said medi-hotels to quarantine sick people would cease operations by the end of February and hotels would not be used at all by the end of March.
More than 70,000 people have gone through the hotel quarantine system since December 2020, enabling travellers to enter Victoria from interstate and overseas without spreading the coronavirus.
But leaks from the hotels sparked the state’s second wave of coronavirus in 2020, which resulted in more than 18,000 infections and 800 deaths.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said the hotels were built for tourists, not quarantine.
“A purpose-built quarantine facility ensures we have the resources we need to see through the coronavirus pandemic and any pandemics in the future,” she said on Friday.
The new Mickleham facility, north of Melbourne, is the first of its kind in Australia to be built since the start of the pandemic. It will open 250 beds later this month, scaling up operations until the end of April.
The site, which will initially have 500 beds, has been built with federal government money but will be operated by state authorities.
It will house unvaccinated arrivals, people who test positive but can’t isolate at home, and could also be used as emergency accommodation for natural disasters such as bushfires.
CQV has begun onsite training and orientation for 500 staff, with hundreds transitioning across from the hotel system.
The program included some of Melbourne’s biggest hotels, including the Mantra Tullamarine, Four Points Hotel, Holiday Inn Airport, Novotel South Wharf and Intercontinental Hotel, Novotel on Collins and the Stamford Plaza.