Premier and top cop in hotel blame game, gym and shops close
The two most senior figures leading the state in the pandemic yesterday publicly claimed the other was responsible for contracting security guards for hotel quarantine.
The opposing comments come as another bungle saw more than 300 guests booted out of a budget hotel after NSW Police ruled it unfit for quarantine purposes.
It is the latest drama involving the hotel quarantine system after two security guards working in the scheme tested positive for COVID-19, one of whom copped a fine for breaching self isolation rules while waiting for his test results.
Police run hotel quarantine, but yesterday Commissioner Mick Fuller said "government has the responsibility of hiring the security companies" which provide guards for the operation.
Just hours earlier, Premier Gladys Berejiklian dodged questions about why the government contracted security companies to assist police.
"Every decision made in that regard is overseen by the police, so please ask them about those detailed questions," she said.
Asked what COVID training security guards receive before starting work in quarantine, Ms Berejiklian said: "I'll have to get that advice from the police but obviously the police would oversee that process."
Later, when asked the same question, Mr Fuller said: "In terms of the training for security guards that's a matter for the government departments who hire them".
The comments were downplayed to The Daily Telegraph last night as merely differences in "semantics".
"Police still have the lead in relation to (hotel quarantine and) that operation is being run from the police operations center," Mr Fuller said earlier.
Hotel quarantine has come under further scrutiny after a security guard caught the virus from a returned US traveller while working in a quarantine hotel, before going on to work at two other Sydney venues.
A second security guard has also tested positive, and was fined for breaching a self isolation direction while waiting for a test. The 22 year old is now in a health facility, and will be charged for his stay.
Meanwhile, in a dramatic police operation yesterday, 366 returned travellers were moved out of the Travelodge Hotel in the Sydney CBD after police deemed it to be unfit for hotel quarantine.
The guests were moved after an audit by police found the Travelodge failed to meet a "high standard of delivery" of quarantine standards.
"Hotels that do not meet the expectations are rotated out of the hotels roster," a NSW Police statement said.
Police sources said there had been a number of complaints from guests about the cleanliness of the hotel compared to other more expensive hotels used for quarantine.
They said there was no issue with it being COVID unsafe.
Some guests staying at the Travelodge in recent days had already been individually moved before the decision was made to relocate everyone.
A Travelodge spokeswoman said the "most recent site inspection with police and health authorities was conducted on July 28" where they were deemed compliant and retained for the hotel quarantine program.
"We are not aware of any subsequent audit, nor are we aware of any COVID-19 related concerns," the statement said.
"The Travelodge Sydney has strict protocols in place around COVID-19 cleaning and these have not been brought into question by the NSW authorities. All hotel rooms are deep cleaned thoroughly before and after guest use," the statement said.
The concerns about quarantine bungles comes after a Victorian inquiry heard almost all of that state's current COVID infections were linked to a hotel breach.
More than 50,000 people have now gone through hotel quarantine in NSW since the pandemic began, with security guards working 80,000 shifts guarding floors.
Mr Fuller said having only two cases of guards testing positive out of the 80,000 shifts worked was "statistically … insignificant", defending their involvement in the scheme.
NSW Police confirmed the hotel guards receive a one-off formal training session in relation to infection control protocol.
GYM CLOSES AFTER POSITIVE TESTS
The gym and fitness centre at a swanky Sydney club has been shut for sanitisation after a member and a contractor tested positive for COVID-19.
The gym at City Tattersalls Club in Sydney's CBD is closed for 48 hours as of Tuesday evening for sanitisation after NSW Health confirmed a gym member and a contractor had caught COVID-19.
Members who attended the gym on August 19 up until August 23 will have their details provided to NSW Health for contact tracing purposes.
CEO Marcelo A Veloz confirmed the unfortunate news to members in a letter on Tuesday evening.
"We are collaborating with the department to ensure we can conduct an effective tracing investigation and ensure those who may have come in close contact with these two individuals are contacted, get tested and isolate for a period of 14 days," Mr Veloz wrote.
"The club has a stringent COVID-Safe Plan in place and only three weeks ago, in addition to our daily sanitising routine, the club engaged a COVID certified contractor to perform a preventive sanitation of all club areas to even further reduce the risk of transmission."
Mr Veloz reminded members not to attend the club and to get tested if they were experiencing flu-like symptoms.
"I apologise in advance for having to share this news with you," he wrote.
"Our world as we used to know it is now quite different and whilst I never envisaged that I would be sending these type of messages to members, rest assured that City Tatts has your health and safety as its first priority."
BROADWAY SHOPPING CENTRE IN COVID SCARE
Retailers inside one of the CBD's major shopping hubs have been shut tonight after a visit from a confirmed coronavirus case.
A customer who visited Broadway Sydney's Apple store and Kmart on Saturday August 22 between 3:30 and 5pm has tested positive to COVID-19, according to a statement from Broadway Sydney's management on Tuesday night.
The statement told customers both locations would undergo cleaning procedures overnight and asked them to watch for symptoms.
The Apple Store and Kmart are tonight undertaking deep cleaning and working with NSW Health to ensure all other required actions are taken to maintain our community's safety," Broadway Sydney's statement said.
"Any customer who visited these stores during this time should monitor their health and, if they develop any COVID-19 symptoms, get tested immediately and self isolate."
The statement also said customers who went to other retailers or visited at different times to the positive case "should not be alarmed".
Broadway Sydney was thoroughly cleaned on Saturday night as part of regular COVID-Safe procedures and all unaffected stores will remain open.
Based on current Health advice, customers in our wider community who may have visited other retailers in the centre, or visited at other times should not be alarmed. The centre and all other retailers will remain open.
Originally published as Premier and top cop in hotel blame game, gym and shops close