Australian Open may run into more quarantine trouble

After a delayed start, Australian Open may have to revisit their quarantine plans

Australian Open tune-up events cancelled for a day at Melbourne Park

Australian Open may run into yet another obstacle as apartment owners of a luxury Melbourne hotel are likely to oppose the organisers’ plan of using it to quarantine players there.

The Australian Open is looking at Westin Melbourne as one of the possible quarantine hotels. But apartment owners in the hotel are concerned for their health, their lawyer Graeme Efron told Reuters on Monday.

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“My instructions are to get an injunction. So at this stage, that’s where we’re going,” Efron said.

With the Australian Open set to begin on February 8, players and their entourages are expected to arrive in Melboure in mid-January and undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine as part of COVID-19 protocols.

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Efron said the Westin had informed the owners on Christmas Eve about the quarantine plans and presented it as a “done deal.”

“No-one has told us that this has been mandated by a government authority to turn a partly residential city hotel into a quarantine hotel,” he said.

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Owners, who include some of the country’s top business people, said they felt “ambushed” by the quarantine plan.

“At 84, I’m in the vulnerable group and it’s shocking the way they tried to ram this through without any attempt to consult with us,” owner Digby Lewis told Fairfax media.

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Westin management said their “COVID safe” plan had been shared with the owners corporation, adding that residents would use a separate entrance and lifts and have no contact with players and quarantine staff.

Melbourne, capital of Victoria state, was the epicentre of Australia’s largest second wave outbreak of COVID-19, which started at two quarantine hotels for international arrivals.

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More than 18,000 infections were recorded in Victoria during the outbreak and nearly 800 deaths.