Home Australia How the criminal case against Victoria’s health department over the botched Covid-19 hotel quarantine plan fell apart at the last minute

How the criminal case against Victoria’s health department over the botched Covid-19 hotel quarantine plan fell apart at the last minute

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How the criminal case against Victoria's health department over the botched Covid-19 hotel quarantine plan fell apart at the last minute


March 27 – The national cabinet announces that returning foreign travelers must complete 14 days of hotel quarantine. Victoria decides to use private security guards on the program

May 15: A family of four with COVID-19 moves to the Rydges on Swanston hotel.

May 25 – One Rydges on Swanston staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and two others develop symptoms.

May 27 – The Rydges on Swanston outbreak was first identified by the Department of Health, eventually increasing to 17 workers and their contacts.

June 14: A Stamford Plaza staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and the outbreak eventually grows to 46 people.

June 24 – Victoria requests 850 ADF personnel to replace private security in hotels, but this is rescinded a day later when the Department of Justice and Community Safety takes over the programme.

June 30 – Then-Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announces a judicial inquiry after genomic sequencing reveals multiple cases of COVID-19 may be linked to non-compliance with infection control protocols by staff at hotel quarantine.

July 4, July 6, July 11: Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison writes to Mr Andrews three times offering support to the ADF.

July 6 – The border between Victoria and New South Wales closes for the first time in a century.

July 20 – Inquiry into hotel quarantine begins, led by Judge Jennifer Coate.

August 2: Victoria is locked up again.

August 5: Pandemic restrictions delay public inquiry hearings

August 11 – Andrews tells a separate parliamentary inquiry that ADF support for hotel quarantine was not offered, sparking a war of words with then-Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

August 17 – Public hearings into the Coate investigation begin.

August 18 – Research concludes that 99 per cent of active cases in Victoria are due to outbreaks in Rydges and Stamford.

September 25 – Mr Andrews appears before the inquiry and apologizes to Victorians.

September 26: Health Minister Jenny Mikakos resigns.

September 28: In closing arguments of the investigation, lawyers say the program is responsible for more than 18,000 COVID-19 infections and 750 deaths.

October 20 – An extraordinary hearing of the inquiry was convened with Mr Andrews and Professor Brett Sutton among those asked to provide new statements after receiving further emails and phone records.

December 7: New hotel quarantine program begins

Dec. 21: The investigation’s final report does not determine who made the decision to hire private security, but identifies multiple flaws in the setup and oversight of the plan.


February 1 – Figures provided to state parliament’s Estimates and Public Accounts Committee reveal the government spent at least $7.7 million on legal representation for the Coate investigation.

September 29: WorkSafe charges the Department of Health with 58 violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act after a 15-month investigation

October 22 – The matter is heard for the first time in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.


November 25 – A five-week hearing to test evidence acquired by WorkSafe against the Department of Health begins in the Magistrates Court.


March: Magistrate Simon Zebrowski considers there is sufficient evidence for the matter to go to trial and the case moves to the county court.


April 9 – The county court rules in favor of a Department of Health request to exclude evidence from 10 witnesses presented during the Coate investigation, and prosecutors do not appeal the ruling.

April 30: Prosecutors drop charges against the department over the earlier ruling, days before the matter was set to go to trial.

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