Returned travellers quarantining in an Adelaide hotel linked to a coronavirus cluster that has now infected 20 people are being told they may have to restart their quarantine in a new hotel, regardless of how many days they have already served.
It means some returned travellers may ultimately be forced to quarantine for up to 28 days.
The action is being taken out of concern Covid-19 could spread inside the Peppers medi-hotel in Adelaide’s city centre, where three Covid-19 cases in the cluster are linked to workers at the hotel.
Earlier on Tuesday, the South Australian premier, Steven Marshall, said authorities had recorded one new case overnight after “thousands and thousands of tests” on Monday. He is expected to hold a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
At about 10pm on Monday night, guests at the medi-hotel – the name used for quarantine hotels in South Australia – received pieces of paper under their room door informing them they would be moved to a new hotel on Tuesday.
The SA government document said: “Your safety is our highest priority and, as a result, we will be transferring all travellers to another medi-hotel within the next 24 hours. We understand that there are guests whose quarantine period is due to end tomorrow, Tuesday 17 November, however to ensure your safety and to minimise the public health risk, this time will be extended, which may be up to 14 days.”
Guests will not have to pay for the additional quarantine period, and are being warned they will have to reschedule any connecting flights they had booked if they were transiting through Adelaide.
Another piece of paper given to guests notes the mental health concerns of the extended quarantine, and provides a list of support services.
Guests have also been given information about the SA government’s $300 cluster isolation payment, for those without paid leave.
Dennis K, who is seven days into quarantining in the Peppers hotel with his partner after arriving from Amsterdam, has a connecting flight booked to Melbourne, where they live. He booked flights into Adelaide as Melbourne is not currently accepting international arrivals.
“It’s stressful, because they literally shove a letter under the door, but there was no knock or assistance to explain it to us … People are due to leave this morning. Imagine being told you had to do it all again, imagine if you missed your flight,” he said.
Dennis said he and his partner were unable to sleep as a result of the confusion last night, and that he is concerned moving fellow guests into a bus and to a new hotel will increase the chance of spreading Covid-19.
He said they have not yet been told where they are being taken.
“Our room door has been closed since we moved in, nothing has been breached here. Moving us through and putting us on a bus, surely that brings more risk of spreading the virus?” Dennis said.
Guardian Australia contacted SA Health for clarification on how many people have been affected.
As a result of growing Covid-19 community transmission in Adelaide, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have moved to tighten border restrictions for arrivals from South Australia.
Since the emergence of the Parafield cluster the SA government has suspended international flights into Adelaide, for at least the rest of this week.
Adelaide had previously been accepting 600 international arrivals each week under Australia cap on arrivals – limits requested by state and territory heads to ease pressure on their hotel quarantine systems.
Australians stranded overseas as a result of the arrival caps have been advised to access any flight they can into Australia.
The South Australian government recently agreed to increase its arrival cap to help repatriate Australians stranded overseas, including those who live in other states.