Australia’s COVID-19 quarantine camps are drawing global attention this week as videos and reports expose what appears to be the strictest pandemic restrictions in the world.
In one hidden camera video, Hayley Hodgson, a woman who was forcefully taken from her home and sent to a 14-day quarantine at the so-called Centre for National Resilience in Howard Springs, Northern Territory, captures what appear to be the quarantine camp’s guards warning her to “obey the rules” or face a $5,000 fine.
“So this, I’m going to give you a warning, yeah? This is an official warning that you have to stay on your balcony and obey the rules while you’re here,” said the guard, who is dressed from head to toe in personal protective equipment, including safety glasses, a mask and gloves.
Hodgson interjects and asks if she is allowed to go to the laundry.
“You’re allowed to go to the laundry, but you’ve got to wear your mask,” the guard responds.
The guard adds that she is not allowed to go by a fence that is near her balcony. Hodgson points out that the rule “makes no sense” and points to a balcony across from her own that is right next to the fence.
“Yeah, but you can’t leave your balcony to go to the fence to talk to somebody else. That’s just obvious,” he says. “Again, it doesn’t have to make sense. There has to be lines everywhere drawn, yeah? And one of the lines is you cannot leave your balcony and you cannot go to someone else.”
The guard says the area Hodgson is in is “much more highly infectious,” to which Hodgson says, “highly infectious when all of us people are negative.”
“So far,” the guard responds, acknowledging that the group of people in quarantine tested negative for COVID-19. “The risk is still very high.”
Hodgson later appeared on the UnHerd podcast where she said she was sent to the quarantine camp after being exposed to someone who was COVID-19 positive. While at the camp, she was tested three times and was never positive for COVID herself. She said the guards threatened her with fines and an extended stay in the quarantine camp if she broke any rules.
On Tuesday, Australian police arrested three people who escaped the Howard Springs quarantine camp in the middle of the night, BBC News reported.
Police said the group had to scale a fence to leave the facility despite having tested negative for COVID the day before.
It is unclear if the escapees were locals or returning travelers.
In a similar incident, a 27-year-old man scaled the fence and fled the facility last Friday. He was later arrested and tested negative for the virus.
In late November, an Aboriginal elder posted a video on Facebook warning that dozens of Indigenous Australians were being forcibly taken from their towns by the Australian military and transported to a quarantine camp against their will, as reported by the Daily Mail.