‘Welcome to the hotel quarantine rave’: Howard Springs’s dangerous party

by | Oct 9, 2020 | COVID-19, News | 0 comments

A video taken from within the NT’s Howard Springs COVID-19 quarantine facility that shows revellers dancing closely, with some ignoring advice to wear masks, has been labelled as “dangerous behavior” by the president of the Australian Medical Association NT.

The short clip posted to TikTok on Tuesdayshows a group of about 20 people participating in the taxpayer-subsidised “hotel quarantine rave” to The Jam by Kideko for a birthday party.

While the group of potential COVID-19 carriers ignored physical distancing rules drummed into Australians since the onset of the pandemic, the party appeared to be shut down at some point.

 

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles ignored questions about the video on Thursday, but AMA NT president Robert Parker said flouting quarantine health rules was risky.

“We are always concerned here in the Northern Territory of a COVID-19 outbreak that could slip into our Aboriginal communities where comorbidity is more prevalent,” Dr Parker said.

“If there are people coming from COVID hotspots, there is every chance they are asymptomatically carrying the bug. It is a bug people in some cases don’t realise they have.

“This is dangerous behaviour.”

Visitors arriving to the Northern Territory from COVID-19 hotspots such as Victoria must spend 14 days in mandatory quarantine at Howard Springs.

But the former Inpex workers camp has quickly become a go-to destination for many Australians looking to use the facility to quarantine under the NT Government’s ‘hotspot’ border restriction policy and then proceed to other parts of the country.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has previously stated that Territory taxpayers are subsidising southern travellers to the tune of millions of dollars on the cost of quarantine, but has so far made no effort to change the set price of $2500 – which he also admitted was arbitrarily decided.

According to government data, more than 3000 people have quarantined at the facility, with many moving on to other states after completing the 14-day session and not staying in the NT to spend cash with local tourism operators.

‘Stick to the rules’: AMA NT

Apart from a ‘weak positive’ case reported in the last week of September, the NT has maintained it has eradicated the virus.

On entering the Howard Springs quarantine facility, a booklet is handed to quarantiners mandating that face masks must be worn outside of rooms, and a distance of 1.5 metres must be kept.

But Dr Parker said it was up to staff to enforce the rules.  

“The whole purpose of quarantine is to sit for two weeks to see if symptoms appear and not pass them onto anyone else,” he said.  

“People are supposed to be sitting on their balconies, and we need staff to monitor that.

“If people are partying in quarantine they are clearly not doing the right thing. Stick to the rules.”

Questions to Health Minister Natasha Fyles went unanswered.

 

 

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