A regional COVID-19 quarantine facility is being constructed in Queensland, Australia. The Queensland government is building the coronavirus quarantine camp in Toowoomba, about 80 miles from the city of Brisbane.
The new COVID-19 quarantine facility is expected to have 500 beds available by the end of the year and a total of 1,000 beds by the end of the first quarter of 2022. Construction has already started at the site near the Wellcamp Airport. The COVID-19 quarantine facility will be built by property development firm Wagner Corporation, which owns the land. Queensland government will operate the regional facility once it is operational.
"As Australia contends with the dangerous Delta variant, Queensland must have alternatives to hotel quarantine that offer enhanced public safety," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement. "That's why we're getting on with building the Queensland Regional Accommodation Centre, a 1000-bed, dedicated facility near Wellcamp airport that will greatly reduce reliance on hotel quarantine."
Australia requires travelers to the country to provide a "negative COVID-19 PCR or RT-PCR test to your airline when checking in for your flight at the departure point." Once travelers arrive in Australia, they must quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility in the port of arrival.
Previously, visitors to Queensland were forced to quarantine if they have been in a COVID-19 hot spot in the previous 14 days.
However, on Friday the Queensland government announced, "Queensland residents and those intending to relocate to Queensland who have been in a hotspot in the last 14 days or since the identified start date (whichever is shorter) will not be allowed to enter Queensland, without an exemption. Exemptions will only be granted in extreme exceptional circumstances."
The order is in effect until Sept. 8.
Costs for the facility were not immediately released, but Deputy Premier Steven Miles defended the construction of the building, saying, "When you consider that the last lockdown alone cost more than a billion dollars in economic impact, and compensation, you can see just what fantastic value it will be."
The Australian federal government previously declared that it would not help pay for Queensland's quarantine camp.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison argued that the new facility "did not seek to meet the national guidelines."
"But the Queensland Government was always in a position to go ahead with that facility, if that's what they wish to do and to have people quarantine there rather than in hotel facilities," Morrison added. "That is entirely a matter for the Queensland Government. And they've made that decision. And they could have done that months ago if that's what they wished to do. But good for them. And I wish them every success."
Morrison previously proposed an alternative 1,000-bed quarantine facility at the Damascus Barracks at Pinkenba, which the federal government would pay for and allow the Queensland government to operate.
According to the Queensland health department, there are currently two new COVID-19 cases in Queensland, which has a population of over 5.2 million. Since the pandemic began, Queensland has had a total of 1,972 coronavirus cases, and 1,908 have recovered. There have been a total of seven COVID-19 deaths in the state in northeastern Australia.