Australia requires all incoming international travelers to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival at a hotel under close supervision…unless you are Nicole Kidman or other well-connected celebrities. That has sparked outrage across Australia, but is Kidman really the one to blame?
Nicole Kidman Skips Mandatory Hotel Quarantine
Kidman and her husband Keith Urban recently returned to Australia last week via private jet from the United States (so much for Etihad…). Along with their two daughters, they were permitted to travel to their holiday home in New South Wales (NSW) and bypass the two-week hotel mandate imposed upon everyone else.
Kidman has a sprawling ranch in Southern Highlands, a beautiful wine region about 100 miles south of Sydney. As pictures of her self-regulated quarantine appeared in her social media feed, many Australians began to express outrage.
Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier of NSW, sparked even further outrage when she defended the exception by stating, “It’s just a question of where you have the quarantine.” Yet most returning NSW residents must wait out the fortnight in a hotel, even if it is within walking distance of their house.
The fact that Kidman plans to spend $100 million to produce a new TV series in Southern Highlands strikes many as a “pay-to-play” exchange.
Special Treatment Compounded By High Cost Of Quanratine
Kidman is not the only one to escape quarantine. Dannii Minogue, an Australian singer and songwriter, was also allowed to quarantine in her own home. Other high-profile figures were as well.
This special treatment in a fairly egalitarian society is compounded by the fact that Australian states are now charging travelers for the mandatory quarantine…about US$2,000 for the 14-day hotel stay.
So the rich and well-connected get to save money and enjoy the comfort of their own homes while most must not only be a prisoner for two weeks (and watch out for those Qantas flight attendants) but pay a sizable amount of money for the pleasure.
The outrage is understandable…
Don’t Blame Kidman…
But I can hardly blame Kidman. Why should she and her husband and kids have to be cooped up in a hotel room (or suite) when they can so nicely quarantine in the comfort of their home? As long as they keep their distance from others and remain on the property, they will no more likely spread the virus than had they spent two weeks in a hotel room. In fact, their risk of spread would likely go down since they would not interact with hotel staff for meals, housekeeping, and other items.
The problem is not Kidman, it seems to me, but in not making more exceptions to let citizens quarantine in their own homes. I understand that the mandatory hotel rule provides an extra layer of precaution because it makes compliance easier to monitor. I also laud Australia for largely controlling the virus thus far. But essentially jailing people for two weeks at their expense seems unreasonable if they can just as easily and safely quarantine from the privacy of their own home.
It’s an interesting story because it once again it demonstrates the rich and well-connected play by a different set of rules. But I just cannot be upset at Kidman for this. Come on, of course she just wants to be in her home. Maybe NSW and other Australian states should start letting “ordinary” people go home as well…under threat of severe fine for leaving before the 14-day quarantine is over.