Hotel quarantine class action given go-ahead in Victoria
A class action over the alleged mismanagement of Victoria’s hotel quarantine program, resulting in prolonged lockdowns across the state, is set to proceed.
The Victoria Supreme Court ruled on Friday (26 August) that a class action will proceed against the Victorian government, key ministers, and bureaucrats — who are accused of mismanaging the state’s hotel quarantine program, which forced businesses into a second COVID-19 lockdown.
To continue reading the rest of this article, please log in.
Create free account to get unlimited news articles and more!
Justice John Dixon’s ruling follows a two-year battle for businesses to fight for compensation — which Quinn Emanuel partner Damian Scattini (pictured), who is leading the class action, said was an important win.
“We welcome today’s decision. When the Victorian government decided to run a mandatory hotel quarantine program, it took on a duty to ensure it was managed properly. If the hotel quarantine program had been handled competently by the people in charge, there would not have been a second lockdown,” he said.
“That lockdown decimated businesses and through this class action, we are giving business owners a way to get back some of what they lost. The class action relates to tens of thousands of businesses that provided goods or services to the public from bricks and mortar premises in Victoria and suffered financial loss because of Victoria’s second lockdown, which started in July 2020.”
Thousands of business owners across Victoria have reportedly signed up for the class action already — from hospitality and retail to fitness and beauty, all of whom suffered as a result of ongoing lockdowns across Victoria.
One gym owner, in particular, went from earning $10,000 a week to $50 a week. According to Mr Scattini, the lead plaintiff is a restaurant owner who had to pivot to a local takeaway offering and was forced to cease dine-in operations.
The class action will be focused on seeking compensation for business owners rather than the decision to implement a quarantine program in the first place. The responsibility of how the mandatory hotel quarantine was managed was the responsibility of the state of Victoria and certain ministers and department secretaries.
“Unlike the successful hotel quarantine program in New South Wales, quarantine in Victorian hotels was a disaster. The defendants were responsible for the unqualified, poorly trained, ill-equipped quarantine staff. The defendants’ negligence in managing the program led to the lockdown of Victorian businesses,” Mr Scattini added.
“As the Premier said at the time, genomic sequencing revealed that coronavirus cases could be traced back to ‘staff members in hotel quarantine breaching well known and well understood infection control protocols’ and ‘clearly there has been a failure in the operation of this program’.
“Nothing will give business owners back the sleepless nights, but the negligence can and should be addressed and business owners ought to be compensated. That’s what this class action is about, and we welcome the court’s decision, which allows it to go forward.”