Hotel quarantine guests in Victoria will now be able to apply to have their mandatory period of detention reviewed by lawyers.
Under the move, overseas arrivals would be permitted to appeal a case against quarantine from next Tuesday, with an independent panel of lawyers to make the determinations.
The entire process would take no longer than 24 hours and falls into line with recommendations handed down by Judge Jennifer Coate at the damning Victorian hotel quarantine inquiry.
The right to appeal also reflects the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment State of Emergency Extension Act 2021.
“A person who is subject to detention under section 200(1)(a) may make an application to the secretary for a review by a detention,” it reads.
“The detention review officer must use their best endeavours to decide the application and advise the applicant in writing of the decision and the reasons for it within 24 hours after the application was received by the secretary.”
Lawyers with more than 10 years of experience would act as the detention review officers, with all applications referred to an officer immediately after they were made for review.
Detention review officers then must make a decision within 24 hours of receiving the application or refer it to the chief health officer to make a final decision.
People detained in hotel quarantine can make multiple applications.
Exemptions to leave quarantine can still be granted, including on compassionate grounds, such as people wishing to attend a funeral or visit a dying relative, or on medical grounds.
Victoria banned international flights in mid-February after Premier Daniel Andrews announced a snap five-day lockdown.
The shutdown was prompted by a coronavirus outbreak linked to the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport hotel that resulted in the more virulent UK strain of the virus leaking from the quarantine system into the community.
But Victoria restarted hotel quarantine on Thursday with a rigorous new approach that involved dividing hotels into “red and green zones” – representing the level of infection risk – with staff performing rigorous hand hygiene as they transitioned between zones.
Victoria has recorded just one coronavirus case since the state’s new hotel quarantine program resumed.
The man in his 40s, who arrived on a flight from Doha on Thursday, tested positive for COVID-19 and was transferred to a health hotel on Friday night.
Victoria’s Department for Health has been contacted for comment.