October 1, 2023

Residents at The Westin hotel in Brisbane not warned COVID-19 quarantine guests arriving from Hotel Grand Chancellor

A resident living above The Westin hotel in Brisbane has expressed concern about how hotel…

Residents at The Westin hotel in Brisbane not warned COVID-19 quarantine guests arriving from Hotel Grand Chancellor

A resident living above The Westin hotel in Brisbane has expressed concern about how hotel quarantine guests were relocated from the ill-fated Hotel Grand Chancellor, saying she unwittingly came within metres as the guests were transferred through a shared entrance.

The Hotel Grand Chancellor was evacuated yesterday and its 129 guests moved to The Westin as authorities investigate how the highly-contagious UK strain spread on its seventh floor, infecting six people.

Isabel Forrest, a long-term resident in an apartment above The Westin, said she was not warned they were coming.

Upon returning from the gym yesterday, Ms Forrest found three ambulances in the driveway as people wearing personal protective equipment were unloaded.

She said she was given no notice the guests were arriving.

“Surely when they bring them over … they should actually quarantine the whole [lobby] area and not let residents walk through,” she said.

Isabel Forrest
Isabel Forrest lives above The Westin where guests from the Hotel Grand Chancellor have been evacuated to.(Supplied)

“The strain of this virus is apparently 70 per cent more contagious and they’re going to a hotel that shares the same space as many residents do.

Ms Forrest said in the past when buses have arrived with returned travellers to quarantine at The Westin, authorities blocked off communal areas while guests entered the building, but that was not the case on Wednesday.

She said there were two entrances to the building and the transfer could have been organised better.

“If they’re taking these measures why do they not think further and go, ‘OK there is 150 apartments above this hotel used by residents that could get exposed to this virus’, when they transport these people over — why don’t they use a separate door or a separate entrance?

“I am happy that there are police, army and you can see the medical team here all the time which is great.

“But if this strain is so strong and if [Premier] Annastacia [Palaszczuk] is extending the quarantine restrictions to these poor people, why are they not protecting other individuals like myself and all the residents here from being exposed to the virus?”

‘Multiple layers of protection’

People wearing PPE outside The Westin, a hotel quarantine for COVID-19, in Brisbane's CBD.
People wearing PPE were seen outside The Westin in Brisbane where 129 travellers have been quarantined.(ABC News: Liz Pickering)

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said all 129 guests being transferred from the Hotel Grand Chancellor to The Westin were wearing PPE and it was unlikely there was any risk if they crossed paths with residents.

“I’m not saying that did occur, but if it did occur, we were wearing PPE so we’ve got multiple layers of protection,” she said.

“We don’t just think one thing will work we look at a whole range of things that will work.

“We initially tested every single one of those 129 guests before they left the Hotel Grand Chancellor so we’ll be getting all that information.”

In a statement, a Queensland Health spokesperson said authorities had been managing hotel quarantine for almost a year and that there were “excellent national protocols in place”.

“The transfer of Grand Chancellor guests to The Westin Hotel was perfectly safe and mirrored the guidelines used for active COVID-19 patients there is no risk to the general public,” the spokesperson said.

“The Grand Chancellor situation needed immediate action and we’re grateful to The Westin Hotel for their assistance.

“The Westin Hotel has two separate towers; one is used for residential purposes and the other for hotel quarantine.

“No quarantine staff or guests have contact with the residential block nor use common areas associated with the residential block.”

In a statement, the Westin Hotel said guests have been confined to their rooms and do not have physical contact with hotel associates or any other guests.

“We are following the guidelines of the authorities and Queensland Health on appropriate hygiene standards,” the spokesperson said.

“The health and wellbeing of our guests and team members are our top priority.

“At no stage throughout the guest transfers did any paramedics leave the patient transport vehicle.”

The hotel said police blocked access to the driveway for a few minutes as each guest was transferred into the building.

“The pathway and surrounding areas were sanitised after every arrival, in accordance with the protocols set in place by the QLD Health authorities,” the statement read.

It said the use of the hotel driveway was requested by police as it was “the safest option when taking into account height restrictions of the patient transport vehicles and other public thoroughfares surrounding the hotel”.