Victoria’s much-maligned hotel quarantine program has resumed, with international flights to touch down in the state for the first time in almost two months.
Some 106 returned travellers will arrive at Melbourne airport across Thursday aboard flights from Colombo, Doha, Dubai and Singapore.
They will be taken to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport and the Intercontinental on Collins Street, where they will stay for a fortnight.
The state hasn’t accepted returned travellers since February 13, when workers contracted the UK strain of COVID-19 from guests at the Holiday Inn.
The outbreak, which grew to 24 cases, triggered a statewide five-day lockdown.
The program was overhauled in December after a judicial inquiry, with further reviews conducted by Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng and SaferCare Victoria following the second leak.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said Victorians should be confident in the third iteration of the scheme.
“We have done everything we can to make this as safe as we can and we will continue to ensure the program keeps ahead of this virus,” she said on Wednesday.
Under the changes, returned travellers will be tested four times, unable to leave their rooms for fresh air without a medical reason, have their meal times staggered and large family groups spaced out to mitigate aerosol transmission.
Hotel quarantine staff have now all received at least one Pfizer dose, while the majority have also undergone N95 mask fit testing.
Arrivals are capped at 800 in the first week, though it is expected to increase in the second to 1000.
The Novotel Ibis Melbourne Central, Pan Pacific, Holiday Inn on Flinders and Element Melbourne Richmond are also ready for use after ventilation works.
Another six hotels are expected to join the program, including the Four Points by Sheraton.
Victoria recorded no new local virus cases for the 40th day in a row on Wednesday, following 11,746 tests.