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Quarantine Day 0: Importance of Research

They say you can't embrace the next chapter until you close the current one. The 7-hour flight to Sydney was the start of our new chapter together.

In the lead up to our move, I've done tons of research to prep myself for quarantine. I joined two Facebook closed groups - Australians in Quarantine and Mandatory 14 day Hotel Quarantine. Both groups are essentially tips, tricks, photos, experiences from travellers who have gone through/are going through quarantine in various Australian states.

I did this because I'm a big planner. It helps me to know what comes next so I can be mentally prepared. Sarah is not a planner. She didn't want to know or see anything about my quarantine research. That's crazy. At least to me it is. Because like how can you not be mentally prepared? How!?

Anyway. Here's what I found from my quarantine research:

  1. 14-days quarantine is not easy. You need a routine planned out to get through each day (See? Planning in action).

  2. Bring lots of practical items such as plates, cups, cutlery, exercise equipment so you can feel some sense of normalcy while cooped up in your room eating from takeaway boxes three meals a day, 42 meals total.

  3. There are two types of quarantine rooms. The ones run by the police which are mostly 4 and 5-star hotels which are just regular hotel rooms. You know the ones with the king sized bed, a small study table, the toilet down the small corridor and windows that don't open. Then there are health rooms. These are run by nurses mostly reserved for families and people with medical conditions like severe asthma, anxiety, depression, etc. These room types are serviced apartments with a kitchenette, washing machine, living room, open balcony.

An actual hotel quarantine room. If you get allocated this with two people, you're in for a very rough 14-days.

Because the type of hotel you get allocated is by chance when you arrive, the Facebook groups say getting allocated health rooms is like hitting the jackpot.

Being the planner and not leaving it to chance, I went to a Singapore doctor and got myself a letter certifying that I have some form of anxiety in enclosed spaces to try to steer us away from this hotel room nightmare and get us into a health hotel. True condition by the way.

We arrive in Sydney and it's a long, long walk off the plane. Maybe it felt longer because both of us were carrying heavy, overweight carry on bags.

Our first checkpoint was to consult with a nurse to see if we have any Covid symptoms or if we need to see a doctor for any medical conditions.

Research side note: My research said to grab any nurse you see and push to be placed in a health hotel so I deployed my medical letter to the first nurse we saw.

She wasn't very nice as she tried to dissuade us from being placed in a health hotel. She said something along the lines of "All Covid patients get placed in a health hotel. You sure you want to go there?" I think she's seen way too many "anxiety/claustrophobia" letters in her time so mine didn't impress her.

We decided to push on and see a doctor instead of leaving our hotel allocation to chance so we got placed in queue with all the defective people of the world and some families. Ended up speaking with a doctor, made my case, and she wrote up a letter to confirm that we'll be going to a health hotel. Tried hard to not smile and put on a sad innocent face. It was difficult.

We get grouped up with a family of three, two other defective people, and get escorted by a nurse through immigration.

Research side note: Families always get health hotels. So if you're grouped with a family, you're in great shape!

We pick up our baggage which for the first time arrived in record time. All four checked in baggage came out at the same time. I struggled to lift them off the conveyor belt and onto the trolleys.

The nurse skips us through the baggage declaration counters and then we get told we need to get a Covid swab.

Research side note: In quarantine, you get swabbed on Day 2 and 10. Not after arrival.

The two defective people, us, and the family of three (Team Defective Groupe) sit down at a makeshift medical section and everyone gets swabbed. We go last and was told by the family that this is 20 times less painful than the Singapore pre-flight Covid swab. We get swabbed and they were right. Easy swab. Not sure why though, probably was a different type of swab test.

Team Defective Group then gets rounded up and led down a slope out into 13 degree fresh Sydney air and straight onto our shuttle bus. Our luggage trolley gets pushed to the ADF soldiers who loads up the luggages.

We board the bus and get told where we're going: Meriton Suites Mascot.

Research side note: Meriton Suites is a serviced apartment. This is what you want for quarantine.

This is what you want.

We're the first off the bus, our luggage gets unloaded, a nurse brings us up to Room 734. As she opens the door, she tells us we have a large apartment. And damn, she was right.

Our room was huge and came with:

  • Washing machine

  • Dryer

  • Dishwasher

  • Microwave

  • Two TVs

  • Open balcony

  • Kitchenette

  • King sized bed

  • Dining table

  • Study table

It really felt like we hit the jackpot. We ask for some food to be brought up because it was like 10pm and all we had so far was whatever Singapore Airlines had served us.

Research side note: The day you get into your hotel is considered day 0. If you arrive at 9am, you spend the whole day 0 in your room. If you arrive at 10pm, like us, you spend 2 hours and you're done with day 0.

I knew the food would be sad. Because we're so close to the airport, all food provided to us is from Gate Gourmet, an airplane catering company. When I say sad, I mean all our meals come to us frozen and we have to microwave them.

Win some, lose some.

The trade off was well worth it since we can have food delivered through Deliveroo or Uber Eats but getting allocated a health hotel on day 0 was a massive win for us. We're in bed by 1am, done with day 0 and excited to have nothing to do but rest and relax for the next 14 days. So it begins!

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