Multiple hotel quarantine guests left exclusion area to buy food and coffee, documents reveal

Victoria Police met with private security contractors two weeks into the bungled hotel quarantine program to discuss how to “better coordinate” security, internal emails have revealed.

The “forum” was labelled a high priority by police and was arranged after a former police officer expressed concerns to his former colleagues about how staff in one hotel were guarding guests.

The former officer, whose name is redacted from the documents, wrote to Victoria Police Commander Tim Tully over concerns returned guests appeared to be breaching the designated outdoor area for exercise at the Pan Pacific Hotel.

“Tim, we have quarantined people out again this morning, you will see one has tried to enter the convenience store,” the former officer wrote.

In a separate email, with attached pictures, the former officer wrote: “I happen (sic) to see one guest go down Rona walk (sic) and stand in front of urban hub (sic).”

“The guard went and spoke to him and he went back into the exclusion area.”

In a later email, he told Commander Tully a guest had accessed a cafe.

Screenshot of a footage showing someone walking towards a convenience store.
A former police officer contacted Victoria Police saying he had seen a guest enter a convenience store.(Supplied: COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry)

“We even saw what looked like someone with a takeaway coffee.”

The pictures of the quarantined guests exercising were forwarded to Assistant Commissioner Mick Grainger and then passed on to senior bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

On April 14, Assistant Commissioner Grainger contacted a senior DHHS official and said a meeting between the hotel security and police should be organised.

An email the next day from Commander Tully indicated he would inform DHHS about the issues before the meeting, which was with Unified Security, Wilson Security and MSS Security.

Later emails from a DHHS official noted Victoria Police had concerns over how “security staff are implementing the DHHS exercise fresh air policy”.

After the meeting, the officers agreed there were concerns around exercise but determined police would not be required to be on site at all hours.

In giving evidence at the inquiry last week, Commander Tully told a hearing there were no requests for police to be at the hotels at all hours.

Documents reveal five attempts or threats of suicide

An incident report sheet provided to the inquiry on Monday revealed there were five reports of “attempt or threats of suicide”.

Commander Tully told the hearing “there was a very low number of significant incidents”.

Three attempts or threats of suicide were reported at the Travelodge Hotel in Docklands, one was listed at the Four Points by Sheraton and another at the Novotel on Collins Street.

The incident report also said there was a brawl at Crown Metropol and six separate assaults across the quarantine hotels.

Meeting minutes show difficulty tracking international arrivals

The documents provided to the inquiry on Monday also revealed issues in accounting for returned travellers in the hotels.

In meeting minutes, taken by Emergency Management Victoria, it was noted the Department of Jobs (DJPR) was having difficulty in “reconciling” passengers.

“DJPR made progress yesterday to reconcile eight people. There are final gaps still urgently requiring DHHS support,” the minutes said.

“This includes six people who were recorded on flights but not in hotels, and five people recorded in hotels who were not listed on the passenger manifest. DJPR are not able to resolve with the data they have access to.”

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