When Ben stepped onto a plane in Canada that would take him back home to Melbourne, Australia, he got ready for what was in store for him. Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, he was forced into a 14-day quarantine by the government: police picked him and other passengers up from the airport to escort them to a hotel where they have been under quarantine for over a week now. He shared his experience in an interview with Newscoop.
Police escort to the hotel
Upon arrival at Melbourne airport, Ben and other travelers were taken to a hotel by police and military. Deserted streets in the usually lively city underlined the severity of the situation. Per government instructions in response to COVID-19, they were each put into separate rooms at the Crown Hotel.
“I will never forget, when I first walked into the room”, says Ben, “the first thing I checked was if there was going to be fresh air or a balcony […] but I instantly noticed there was no balcony, and I was like ‘Oh no, I’m going to be locked into one room with no fresh air for two weeks.’ ”
Guards outside the room & knocking to communicate
His quarantine story sounds like the beginning of a disaster movie. Not only is he locked into a room with no fresh air, but there is also security in front of his door 24/7. But extreme circumstances lead to creative solutions: Ben started to communicate with other travelers by knocking on the windows of his room. After identifying each other by way of the hotel room phones, they set up a Facebook group. This mutual support among people stuck in the same boat has been the biggest help.
Pandemic is a wake-up call for human beings
Australia, still reeling from the devastating bushfires of the last months, now has to grapple with a new challenge in the form of COVID-19. Times of despair reveal the worst in humans, but also the best. Ben sees the current pandemic as a catalyst for positive change. “We’re all coming together – that’s a pretty beautiful thing.” His message to anyone struggling during these times is to stay connected with your loved ones and to stay positive.
For too long, humans have been blinded by greed, Ben argues. But the outbreak of coronavirus has given us the opportunity to slow down and reassess our way of life. “Now is the time to change,” he says in a plea for unity.
This article is part of the Newscoop series #QuarantineStories which asks people from all over the world about how they are coping with COVID-19 and quarantine. If you want to contribute your experience submit your story here.