BY MILES PROUST
For Hazel Proust, 26, and Joshua Hodges, 30, spending two weeks in a hotel room was not the return to Australia they had envisioned after two years living overseas.
The couple is confined to a hotel room in Sydney after the Federal Government brought in strict measures requiring returning overseas travellers to spend 14 days in mandatory quarantine.
Thousands of Australians are now quarantined in hotel rooms in capital cities, with the government footing the bill.
Ms Proust, who had been living in Vancouver with Mr Hodges, said while the experience has not been enjoyable they understand it’s necessary in the fight against COVID-19.
“I understand that international travellers were bringing in the virus and I’m happy to make that sacrifice if it means we can flatten the curve,” Ms Proust said.
Mr Hodges agreed being confined was a necessary evil.
“I think it’s fair and necessary. I do wish they could let us go to a rooftop or something just to get some fresh air. But I get that it is a logistical nightmare and difficult to organise,” Mr Hodges said.
While some commentators have been quick to criticise complaints from those in quarantine, there has been little discussion about the mental wellbeing of those being quarantined away from their homes.
For Mr Hodges, the most difficult aspect has been a loss of control and lack of fresh air.
“I’m lucky I’m with Hazel. It would be a lot harder if it was just by myself,” he said.
Ms Proust said she’s been coping as well as one could expect considering the circumstances.
“I think fortunately I’m someone who doesn't experience many mental health issues, but the biggest impact has been that loss of control. You don’t have control over the food you eat, when you eat it, your movement,” she said.
“Some days it makes you feel a bit shit but I’ve been using this opportunity to do things I wouldn't usually do. Like reading books I’ve been meaning to read or watching movies I haven’t watched.”
Having a daily routine is important in keeping her mental wellbeing in check, Ms Proust said.
They usually wake up at 7am, and wait until breakfast gets delivered to their door an hour later.
“You have to wait about 10 seconds after that knock before you can open the door and get your food,” Ms Proust said.
Post-breakfast she does some exercise and spends the rest of her mornings doing something practical, like organising the photos in her library, applying for Centrelink or doing a puzzle.
Lunch gets served at noon and afterwards she might watch a movie, listen to a podcast or read.
Dinner is served at 6pm.
While the couple is eager to get home, both appreciate the government’s efforts in providing accomodation and meals.
“I am grateful. I know that we are lucky and are in a very fortunate position to be in a hotel room,” Ms Proust said.
“I understand that so many people have lost their jobs, housing and unable to access Centrelink payments," she said.
“I acknowledge there is a lot of privilege in being able to travel overseas and return home."
Mr Hodges was grateful the government was able to house them during the quarantine period.
"We’re not staying in a shitty place, we’re not eating bad food, we’re not going hungry,” Mr Hodges added.