People who work at quarantine hotels in South Australia have been fiercely defended after a security guard infected a pizza bar at his second job.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens was quick to support medi-hotel staff and said the expectation that workers were put “in a bubble away from the rest of the community” was “unreasonable”.
In a heated argument with a reporter on Thursday, he said it made no difference if a medi-hotel worker – whether it be a security guard, nurse, caterer or police officer – had a second job, went to the gym, attended the cinema, visited family or friends or did their grocery shopping.
“Your expectation is that these people go to work and then isolate until they go to work. If we asked these people to do that they would not be doing this job,” Mr Stevens said.
“You’re being completely unreasonable! These people have lives! These people are part of the community too and we require them to do their job.
“Please balance your expectation in what we’re asking these people to do and the fact they have lives outside of their job.”
When Mr Stevens received a response to his comments by reporters citing community concern, he was quick to hit back.
“I understand the community concern but I would respectfully suggest the questions you ask and the way you report this creates a level of perception within the community. Give these people a break.
“Let’s be balanced in our persecution in what these people are confronting and be grateful of the fact they are stepping up to do this job.”
The Police Commissioner said authorities were constantly reviewing the hotel quarantine program but no decision had been made to ban workers from doing anything outside of their work duties.
“We will see what that review and outcome of those requirements tell us but these people are only at work for 8-12 hours a day.
“They have lives and obligations to meet, mortgages and other bills to pay and this is simply a necessity in order to fulfil our national commitment to help returning Australians come back.”
The Parafield cluster began after three staff members from medi-hotel Peppers Adelaide contracted the virus while working.
There are now 23 people linked to the cluster and more than 4000 people have been put into quarantine facilities as a result.
An additional 17 people are also suspected to be linked.
Following the outbreak, repatriated Australians who were quarantining at the Peppers hotel were told they would need to complete a further 14 days of isolation and that they would be moved hotels.
The decision to relocate guests was reverted and they remain at the facility.
South Australia has since halted all international arrivals until “at least” November 30.