The State Government has selected a preferred site at Donnybrook Road, Mickleham for a new purpose-built quarantine accommodation hub.
It will now commence discussions with the Federal Government about planning, guarding against the potential long-term threat of COVID-19 and its changing variants.
The hub will be a 500-bed facility, expected to cost about $15 million to get the project ready for construction.
The State Government has provided a detailed summary of the business case to the Federal Government and will commence discussions about gaining access to the preferred site – which is on Commonwealth land and next to an existing animal quarantine facility.
While discussions about construction costs and ownership are underway, the State Government intends to get on with the planning work to ensure the project doesn’t lose time.
The final decision on whether to proceed with construction will be made in September, pending support from the Federal Government and future insight on a range of matters, including the progress of our nation’s vaccine rollout, the efficacy of vaccines in preventing transmission, and Commonwealth decisions on rules governing travel into and out of Australia.
The design of the new hub is fully-informed by experts in public health and infection control and is based on the existing standalone facility operating at Howard Springs, in Northern Territory.
The master plan for the new hub includes cabin-style outdoor accommodation, dedicated onsite services, including catering, which will support strong infection control and prevention measures.
It is also designed with the ability to increase to up to 3000 beds as part of a scalable build if a larger facility is determined to be required at any point.
The new hub will also be designed with relocatable cabins so that it can be used for alternative and future needs, including ongoing quarantine arrangements, crisis accommodation and other emergencies.
As part of the business case process, multiple sites were considered and evaluated against a set of selection criteria that included proximity to a public hospital, international airport, transport and other services, as well as land area and site-specific considerations.
A detailed project summary is available at vic.gov.au/alternative-quarantine-accommodation-business-case.
Acting Premier James Merlino said it was clear the virus would be in Victoria for some time.
“While we can’t control how well or how fast other countries deal with the pandemic or their vaccine rollout, we can make sure our own quarantine system is as strong and safe as possible,” he said.
“The best time to start work on a standalone quarantine hub would have been 12 months ago – the second-best time is now.”