Avalon quarantine plans ‘safe’

Avalon Airport chief executive officer Justin Giddings. (Supplied)

By Luke Voogt

Avalon Airport will work with authorities to make a proposed quarantine facility “the best it can be”, its chief executive Justin Giddings has vowed.

Mr Giddings moved to reassure Geelong residents the facility would be safe following revelations this week that state government was considering Avalon as a potential site, after multiple failures in Victoria’s hotel quarantine program.

The Avalon site for returned travellers would be based on the Northern Territory’s “highly-successful” quarantine facility at Howard Springs, Mr Giddings said.

“They’ve had no breaches at all,” he said.

“I have spoken to one of the managers who run it … it just gave me a little more confidence that this is a great system.

“They’ve got a green zone – mainly for domestic arrivals – and a red zone, which is higher risk.

“Depending on which zone you’re in, you’ve got different levels of freedom.

“The red zone, I understand, you’re in there with either your family or by yourself and you can’t interact with anyone else.”

Mr Giddings described Avalon as an excellent location for the facility.

“We’ve got a lot of space and we’re well away from any residential areas,” he said.

He said the facility’s staff would interact with quarantined travellers outdoors, rather than in hotel hallways, decreasing their risk contracting COVID-19.

“Getting some sunlight” would improve the mental health of those quarantined, he added.

The state government is currently considering quarantine sites at both Melbourne and Avalon airports, with Mr Giddings expecting a decision in coming weeks.

An outdoor site would at least partially replace the state government’s hotel quarantine program – breaches from which led to Victoria’s second wave and the recent snap lockdown.

Unlike Melbourne Airport, Avalon has separate international and domestic terminals.

The airport could also redirect passengers from future COVID-19 hotspots in Australia through its international terminal to keep them separate, Mr Giddings said.

Avalon is currently running two return flights to Sydney and one to the Gold Coast daily.

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