From early this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments all over the world were grappling with how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overburdening health systems and workers in such a connected world.
Commonly used measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout 2020 have included social distancing, lockdowns and restrictions on the movement of people in the community plus, in the case of people entering a country from overseas, a period of quarantine.
These measures have been, and continue to be, used across Australia. Of significance to the work of the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry was the 14-day period of mandatory quarantine that was announced on 27 March 2020 and implemented for all international arrivals into Victoria from 29 March 2020.
Within the first three months of the Inquiry being established, it held public evidentiary hearings over 27 days, acquired evidence from 96 witnesses and received more than 350,000 pages of documents. On 6 November 2020, the Inquiry delivered its interim report, which made recommendations for a more robust Quarantine Program for Victoria as the State began re-opening to international arrivals.
This final report is to be read in conjunction with the interim report. The recommendations from the interim report find their evidentiary basis and rationale in the contents of this final report, which examines why the Hotel Quarantine Program was established, decisions made and actions taken in its establishment, what went wrong, what went well and what could, and should, be done better. The further recommendations contained in this final report are to be read in conjunction with the recommendations contained in the interim report.