Coronavirus quarantine hotel guests scramble as fire alarm sounds

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A couple in quarantine at an Adelaide medi-hotel found themselves not knowing whether to stay in their room or flee when a fire alarm sounded last night.

Catherine and Zed Smith told ABC Radio Adelaide they had to scramble when a fire alarm sounded just before dinner time yesterday.

The couple is halfway through mandatory quarantine at the Pullman Hotel in Adelaide’s CBD after arriving in Adelaide from London.

Ms Smith said they were not sure whether to stay or leave — but decided to evacuate, throwing on dressing gowns and shoes, grabbing keys and racing out the door.

“I put a bra on … we grabbed the two room keys and we went off and we headed down the hallway toward the fire exit,” said Ms Smith, who is originally from Sydney.

While they were part way down, she said, an announcement came over the loudspeakers telling guests to “stay in your rooms”.

“We headed back to our room and the keys didn’t work,” Ms Smith said.

“So we stood outside in out dressing gowns, and there were no police around, and we’re wondering if … security cameras can see us.”

Pullman Hotel Adelaide
International arrivals are in mandatory quarantine at the Pullman Hotel in Adelaide.(ABC News: Dean Faulkner)

Mr Smith said one police officer, then another, eventually arrived and let them back into the room, and it was later revealed to be a false alarm.

“Quite frankly it was obvious they didn’t know how to handle the situation,” he said.

“Normally it’s as simple as you’ve come out of your hotel room, you’ve breached quarantine rules. But in this instance the officers didn’t know what to do, because we’d done the right thing.”

Emergency instructions ‘in every hotel room’

Ms Smith said there were no emergency instructions in a booklet they received upon arrival at the hotel, and a few other guests “mentioned that they didn’t know where the exit was”.

“It [was] quite scary,” she said.

However, the Pullman Hotel said each of its rooms contain instructions for emergency evacuation.

A police officer wearing a medical mask stands in front of two police cars with people and a bus in the background.
SA Police officers supervise the mandatory isolation of international arrivals at the Pullman Hotel in Adelaide.(ABC News: Mahalia Carter)

“The hotel rigorously followed health and safety protocol [and] guests were informed over a PA [Public Address system] three times to stay in their rooms.”

The spokesperson said both the Metropolitan Fire Service and SA Police attended when the alarm went off “and were satisfied that we followed procedure”.

Hundreds of international arrivals are staying in mandatory 14-day quarantine at hotels in Adelaide, at their own expense, to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Failures to maintain proper distancing among quarantine hotel security guards in Melbourne have been linked to major outbreaks there.

ABC News has contacted SA Police for comment.

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