December 2, 2023

Australian Open coronavirus quarantine hotel’s discarded PPE found outside neighbours’ homes

Victorian residents living next door to an Australian Open quarantine hotel are worried they have…

Australian Open coronavirus quarantine hotel’s discarded PPE found outside neighbours’ homes

Victorian residents living next door to an Australian Open quarantine hotel are worried they have been exposed to potential health risks, saying overflowing biohazard bins caused used PPE to be blown into their apartment foyer.

Melbourne resident Sarah, who lives next door to the View hotel on St Kilda Road, said she was also concerned by the amount of people who were coming in and out of the building without masks, including what she said was dozens of food delivery drivers each day.

The View hotel is one of three sites where international tennis players and their entourages are quarantining before the Australian Open next month.

At least seven people linked to the tournament have been confirmed to have COVID-19, and more than 70 players are in strict quarantine as close contacts.

Sarah, who did not want to use her surname for privacy reasons, said on the weekend there were around 10 bright yellow biohazard bins that had overflowed and the wind had blown used face masks and gloves across the street.

“In our apartment block, a lot of people I’ve spoken to aren’t going out, because they’re not sure how safe it is,” Sarah said.

“Our building has a lot of elderly people as well as children, basic stuff like this should not be happening.”

Road closure signs block access to the front of The View Hotel, photographed on a sunny Melbourne day.
The View is one of three hotels housing the Australian Open players and their entourages.(ABC News: Chris Le Page)

Father-of-two Brijesh, who also lives nearby, said he believed it was a “double standard” international tennis players were allowed in Australia and said his family was being put at risk because of it.

“It’s been a big issue — we’ve seen half a dozen face masks at a time on our front doorstep, since the hotel quarantine began next door,” he said.

“I’ve been quite worried about it actually, because my five-year-old daughter is at the stage where she likes to pick things up, so it’s pretty scary.”

Face masks and other bits of rubbish on a suburban street at night.
Residents say the personal protective equipment was blown onto the street during a windy night.(Supplied)

Improper disposal of used PPE by security guards and hotel quarantine staff during the state’s second wave was highlighted as a problem during the hotel quarantine inquiry hearings.

The COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) agency said it would review CCTV of the street to find the source of the discarded PPE and would take any appropriate action necessary.

“CQV’s biohazard bins are stored and collected from the secure basement carpark of the View Melbourne, with no public access,” a CQV spokesperson said

“This measure ensures the bins are safely collected within a secure environment to reduce any risk to public health.”

Resident says ‘lazy behaviours’ are on display

Sarah said she constantly saw many people, including workers, coming and going from the building without masks.

“It’s quite upsetting given what the city went through with hotel quarantine last year, that we seem to be witnessing some really lazy behaviours,” she said.

“Constantly during the day and night we see delivery drivers going in and out of the building — I would say about 10 to 15 every lunch and dinnertime.”

The CQV spokesperson said delivery drivers had no access to the hotel.

“They are met out the front by CQV staff who wear appropriate PPE and are trained in our strict IPC protocols. CQV staff then deliver the food outside the resident’s room door,” they said in a statement.

Sarah said only yesterday she witnessed PPE blowing around the streets and she had contacted both the hotel and Tennis Australia, but had not received a reply.

Frank Hargreaves, who lives next to the hotel, said he had witnessed a particularly bad event on a windy night a few days ago and saw a lot of masks had been blown near the door of his apartment building.

“It’s pretty dangerous, but it had been cleaned up the next day,” Mr Hargreaves said.

“The biggest concern I have is the tennis players walking along a busy St Kilda road to get to the courts for training.”