22 October 2021 | 'S: 'E, Grand Chancellor Hotel, Brisbane
Hotel Grand Chancellor, Brisbane
I know I said that I would continue the last blog the next day but I just couldn't get my act together before now so if you have been looking for the next instalment I apologise for the delay.
We find ourselves at the end of the first week in quarantine hotel / prison. To be honest the week has flown by with lots of head scratching and wonderment at the stupidity of the whole quarantine debacle as it applies to us. I don't disagree with the premise of quarantine but it shouldn't be a "one size fits all" blanket rule. As many of you know we did apply for a quarantine exemption based on the fact that we have been tested many times (always negative), have been double vaccinated with Pfizer, and would be spending at least 10 days (11 as it turned out) isolated on a boat travelling to Queensland with no physical contact with anyone else but each other, we were quite prepared to do the balance of the 14 days in hotel quarantine and be tested on arrival but we got a resounding "No" to our application with no reasons given for the decision. To say I am a bit angry about it is an understatement especially as the cost of this incarceration is over $4000 and we have to agree to 4 PCR tests in the period. Why 4 tests I have asked every health care worker that we come into contact with and to date no one can give me the scientific answer that I can understand and live with, well to be exact they haven't given any sort of answer apart from the fact that "it is the protocol". If we don't agree to have the 4 tests they keep you in quarantine for a further 14 days at your expense "to be certain that you haven't got Covid".
I know from some of the feedback on the last post that many of you think it ridiculous about the way we have been treated after all we didn't just get on a plane in Fiji and land in Australia a few hours later on the same day, we took an 11 day sea passage, with no contact with anyone else. Our sea passage is verifiable on our instrument panel which will show that we didn't stop anywhere before arriving at Rivergate marina so to today we have spent 18 days in isolation apart from the border security guys, quarantine police and Queensland health nose pokers, presumably all of whom are fully vaccinated ( if not, then why not). I can't believe that we haven't once been asked if
a) we have had Covid
b) if we are vaccinated and have proof.
Surely both questions are relevant as we would have some immunity to the virus.
I seriously wonder if they have picked the dumbest of their employees to "manage" the quarantine hotel policing, whilst everyone has been very pleasant, some of their thinking (like if Gerry and I are allowed to travel in the lift together was a prime example) leaves a lot to be wondering about.
Our first night in the hotel was a case of eating food (remember the nachos?), standing in the shower for ages until our skin was prune like and dropping into bed as soon as we had finished in the shower. I think we slept like the dead that first night as we had been almost 48 hours without much sleep by that stage. I'm sure you will be thrilled to hear that the food has improved slightly over the week, except for the first morning when we were presented with muesli which looked like something the cat threw up - not my breakfast go to meal! We entered quarantine towards the end of the 2 week menu rotation so I have put the menus for both weeks in the gallery in case you are interested in what they are serving up. What the menu doesn't tell you is that they throw in fruit each day, usually at breakfast, which can be either a fruit salad (fresh or tinned), an apple, pear or mandarin along with a snack of some sort at lunchtime for the afternoon muchies like a bag of chips, shapes, rice crackers, trail mix, chocolate bar, then there are 3 small bottles of water and a bottle of fruit juice each day to round out the menu. It's certainly enough food but you don't have any choice of the main items - it's whatever they have dictated, whether you like it or not. All meals arrive in a brown paper sack containing cardboard takeaway and / or plastic containers with the food inside, a plastic knife, fork and serviette come in a prepacked plastic bag along with a sheet of instructions detaining how to dispose of your meal remnants in the provided plastic bag with a zip lock tie. If a spoon is required to eat anything it is one of those bamboo things. Now you would think that they would be a bit more "plastic and waste conscious" in this day and age but we each get the entire content every meal. We do our best to reduce the waste by putting both sacks, the cardboard and utensils into just one plastic bag for disposal and save the extra plastic bag for Ron. I don't get the need to send us instructions on the disposal every meal - surely they could have just laminated one copy and stuck it on the back of the room door for everyone to follow? It would have saved 27 pieces of paper in our room and if there are 2 people in one room they could just use one paper sack for both meals and cut out the need for a second sack. None of the meals come with salt and pepper but we asked reception for some and got sent up a cup full of individual packets so that was OK. Whilst I have said there is no choice in the meals there is the ability to order extra or different food from room service but this isn't included in the quarantine cost - you get billed separately for anything extra you order plus you have to pay for the provided meals whether you eat them or not. Tea bags, coffee and milk are supplied on request, which is just as well as we seem to be drinking them out of house and home. I think I've mentioned before that there is a limit on the amount of alcohol we are allowed to order each day, one bottle of wine but I'm not quite sure if that is each or per room so it's a good job that I brought the bottle of rum off of the boat with us! The other comment I have about the meals is the times of them, the breakfast arrives at around 8.30, lunch turns up between 12.30 and 1 and dinner arrives at 6.30, for me they are far too close together but I guess they can't please everyone. Oh and one last thing is the heat of the meals, most times they are just warm enough but we have had a couple of meals that have been cold and if we had been in a restaurant they would have gone back to the kitchen - this isn't an option with how the meals are served up.
As to the housekeeping stuff - well basically there isn't any. Our room isn't serviced at all in all of the time we are here, and we are paying hotel rates for this? We can order a clean towel pack which is left outside the door as per the meal rules - 15 seconds to answer the knock, turn on the bathroom fan and light before opening the door and make sure the balcony door is closed , wear a mask and don't step outside the room. All dirty towels are to be placed in a provided orange bag and zip tied before putting outside the door for pick up. We can also order a linen change pack for the bedding, we tried this yesterday but nothing appeared so we rang down today to make sure we get clean sheets today, still waiting!
The other thing that we can order is a cleaning pack containing a spray bottle of disinfectant, a spray bottle of glass cleaner, a bottle of detergent, 2 cleaning clothes and a washing up sponge. So we can self- service our room! I think I might have to prepare an invoice to give to the hotel when we leave for hotel housekeeping services rendered against our hotel bill!
Our room had a welcome pack when we arrived which basically consisted of a booklet which gives you the hotel rules and instructions (including what to do with meal residue!) and a Red cross "Quarantine wellness kit" - a book of things meant to help you survive in quarantine. Having flipped through it Gerry and I are certain that they are messing with our heads. On one of the activity pages there is a suggestion to do "colouring in" of this picture - good idea, if only they had supplied the coloured pencils or crayons to do it! There is an hotel pen that maybe we should use but with everything coloured in blue it might get a bit monotone. Oh I almost forgot to add that in the lunch sack each day we get a puzzle page - 2 sacks equals 2 of the same puzzle page!
My next observations are about the balcony stupidity. We are allowed out on to the balcony as long as we have our masks on, don't attempt to speak to anyone on another balcony , don't pass anything to another guest on their balcony, no smoking, maintain 1.5 meter distance between people on the balcony (even if you share the same bed?), don't climb on to another balcony. One of our neighbours is evidently a smoker as we can smell the cigarette smoke when they are outside. If we are going to open the room door to retrieve anything we must make sure that the balcony door is closed first, I'm not sure why - maybe Covid is waiting to make its way into the hotel via the balcony door? There is no other obvious reason. I know there are some numb nuts out there but really, we need instructions for use of a balcony?
Our second day saw the Queensland health reps appearing and poking sticks down our throats and up our noses, not particularly pleasant but we knew it was coming. The day passed in a blur of reading, watching crap TV and not doing much. Then on day three we had a phone call from Queensland health to check on our well-being, remember that this is day 14 of isolation for us, Gerry was polite and informed them that we were fine and obviously didn't have covid as this was day 14 for us and we would have had symptoms by now. We got asked all the relevant questions, like our names, dates of birth, home address, phone numbers etc and assured the rep that we were as well as could be expected for a pair of seniors being held hostage. The final question had us wanting to give a sarcastic answer, the question was "and are you available to have you next PCR test on day 5?" the temptation to say let us just check our diaries for availability was overwhelming but we resisted and choked back the sarcasm.
We are both finding it hard to adjust to the floor not moving beneath our feet with each step, we are getting used to not having to brace with every step but are both having a few issues with "watch sleep" we tend to drop off to sleep but wake after a couple of hours ready to go back on watch, so although we try for a decent night's sleep we are both struggling a bit and still needing nana naps during the day - Gerry is a master of those, I don't do so well. The bed has taken some getting adjusting to, it is big, doesn't rock from side to side or bounce up and down and is considerably softer than the boat bed. Of course the pillows are all wrong, the covers are too heavy and Gerry hogs the sheets! The other thing we have found difficult to get used to again is the air conditioning, it's very drying to the skin and noisy which we aren't use to. Gerry checked the filter to make sure it was clean, someone did a good job on that as it was in fact the cleanest hotel filter we have ever seen, and yes he checks in every hotel room we go into.
The TV is on from the minute Gerry has his eyes open and we have realised that we haven't missed a single thing in two years without regular TV. Has entertainment seriously come to this idea of "reality TV" like Love Island, SAS, I'm a celebrity, get me out of here etc? I liked The Block when it first began but I'm disappointed to see it has turned into another "bitch and bark" program pitting the contestants in personal battles each week, so that's another one to cross off my list I just can't watch that crap. Thank goodness we have Netflix etc at home to watch. Even the news has me shaking my head and wondering how some of the segments qualify for a news program.
I have my ancestry stuff to occupy my imprisonment so I'm good, Gerry watches all sorts of rubbish on YouTube, some of which is interesting but most is just his sense of humour.
So we got to day five and it was time for our second nose poke, again negative and then came the Queensland health check up on day six. Gerry answered the internal phone and got stuck with the stupid questioning which was being recorded. He made a point of telling them that it was day 17 for us and of course we were well. Then came the questions about name, date of birth etc. I thought he would explode as he asked why they keep asking this as they obviously have all of our details in their data base and they called us in our hotel room from which we can't leave and the chances of us changing our name, DOB, Home address, phone number from confinement are pretty unlikely. Things went very quiet and the poor girl on the other end said she would call us again after our day 11 test - brave (or stupid) girl!
Well with one week still to go I'm sure I will have more to say at the end of the quarantine period so there will be at least one more post on this site before I close it off and deprive you of my ramblings.
Don't forget to check out the gallery for the quarantine pictures that I'll try and post.