hotel quarantine
(Image: AAP/Richard Wainwright)

The Victorian hotel quarantine debacle has glossed over a more important question: why are we using hotel quarantine at all? Other than New Zealand, virtually no other country forcibly requires returning residents to be essentially imprisoned in a hotel room for 14 days.

At the time the Morrison government introduced the policy, on March 29, the main concern was people getting off infected cruise ships and planes and failing to quarantine at home.

Back then the concern was justified -- especially since almost all the COVID cases earlier in the year had been returning travellers (community transmission remained low during the first wave).