Government responds to new jail quarantine proposal
THE NSW Government has ruled out using the new Clarence Correctional Centre as a coronavirus quarantine centre.
The NSW Corrections minister Anthony Roberts said there were no plans to re-purpose the new jail before prisoners started to arrive in June.
A spokesman for the Minister's office said quarantining people arriving from overseas into Australia was the responsibility of the Federal Government.
"They're putting those people into hotel rooms in Sydney," he said.
"There's no-one staying in those hotel rooms, so using them to quarantine arrivals is keeping those staff in jobs."
He said the situation in Western Australia, where tourist facilities on Rottnest Island were converted to a quarantine centre, was different to NSW.
"The idea there was to not allow the people from cruise liners onto the mainland," he said.
"That's why they decided to put them on the island."
The minister's office said Clarence residents should be assured there were no plans to ship hundreds of people possibly carrying the virus into the region.
The minister's office said while the plan was to begin filling the jail with prisoners from June, the plan could change.
"There's nothing to stop people working outdoors now," he said. "But these days things can change from hour to hour.
"It might be they are not able to finish the work on the jail in time."
Construction of the jail has been finished with commissioning due to begin this week to test systems at the facility are running correctly before inmates arrive.
Last week Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said he had received a proposal from a constituent to use the jail as a quarantine facility.
He said he passed the idea onto the Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, for consideration.
A former contract builder on the site, Steven Adams, also thought the new jail could be useful as a quarantine centre.
He said the modular design of the cells blocks would enable each block to be easily isolated if people showed symptoms of the disease.