My Australian Quarantine Facility Prison Experience

If there’s is a blog post that precisely fits my “let us be free” domain name, well this is it.

There’s no denying it. I’m in the Alice Springs Quarantine facility and having a taste of life on the inside.

Yes, I’m confined to a comfortable hotel room. But this space is the sum total of my existence. Like a parrot in a golden cage. My freedom is completely denied.

There is a guard posted in the corridor outside to ensure I don’t leave the room. I can hear the constant chatter on his two way radio reminding me of my status. No one is allowed in my room and I’m not allowed out.

Meals are delivered to my door in takeaway containers. I don’t meet the person who ensures I have basic food for sustenance. It’s a knock and run thing. Just a bag left at the door and I put on a mask before I open it. Everyday I’m able to request from the menu but to be honest the choices are limited and small. Some meals are pretty good and others are disappointing. You learn.

This was my evening meal one night. What the heck!

Exercise is granted twice a day for 20 minutes. There are about 10 inmates per session. We are allowed in a small fenced off enclosure with a well worn cattle pad around the inside perimeter. In masks, we silently walk around and around in circles soaking up some sunshine and breathing fresh air through fabric, with guards watching of course.

Food packages and goody bags from family are denied unless you gain permission from the welfare team with a concise explanation of what, why, where, who, how. Apparently at some earlier time someone has smuggled drugs inside and ruined it for everyone. Thanks a lot a***hole! Strictly no takeout delivery either. Uber eats out of the question. Definitely no alcohol allowed. Be warned alcoholics as you will go cold turkey. The only privilege – online orders from Coles and Woolies permitted.

I needed my runners as I only had my thongs to walk the cattle pad. And I wanted to jog. After contacting Welfare and arranging appropriate approval, my husband was allowed to deliver them to the facility for someone to leave at my door. You learn to be thankful.

There is nothing voluntary about being in Covid quarantine. Once your inside the facility the bureaucratic process has to run its course. Your life is out of your hands. The system has complete control. Even though they deny using these words, you are a prisoner.

I know I’m in here because I ordered a coffee in a cafe where I was potentially exposed to a person who later developed Covid symptoms. By being in the Quarantine facility I’m protecting the greater society from a virulent virus. Doing my bit for the welfare of all.

It is hard because I physically feel good. Absolutely zero symptoms, Covid tests all negative. I know one hundred percent that I’m innocent but that has absolutely no bearing.

Does escape cross my mind? Naturally. I could squeeze out the window, crawl across the verandah roof, jump into a nearby tree, climb to the ground, scale the fence and I’m outta here. My only option really as the cardboard cutlery supplied with meals is useless as tools to make an escape hole in the wall. I chuckle as I write this but my mind definitely wanders here.

The mental ramifications of an experience like this are not to be brushed aside. It does your head in. I have anger. I have tears. It’s not a ‘zen’ experience.

It isn’t all bad. In this crazy busy world I suddenly have a lot of ‘me’ time. I do yoga everyday. I watch Netflix guilt free. I spend time just sitting letting my mind wander hither and thither. By the window watching the birds. I’m lucky I have a window and even one that opens to let in fresh air. For that I’m grateful. And I have social media to remain in contact with the outside world.

My thinking seat by the window. Note the coat hanger to hold it open.

However, force-ably being denied your liberty of freedom as an extreme precautionary measure is something that is hard. And it seems really unfair when you know you are fit and healthy.

I know now that I will do everything in my power to avoid being put in this situation again. I’m desperate to attain that fully vaccinated status to start with (I’m only partially protected with AstraZeneca at the moment). Another month to go.

The government has a plan that indicates by next year vaccinated Australian citizens will be entitled to avoid the quarantine process. It’s a no brainer for me. Just do it. If our freedom has to come at a price, well, that’s a simple, small price to pay.

So thanks to Covid, I feel I’ve experienced life on the inside. There’s nothing so harsh as to be denied your freedom. Trust me on this. You don’t want to have the quarantine facility experience if it can be avoided. Wear a mask, get the jab and never. NEVER have another coffee at that cafe that put you in this predicament.

I watch a lot of TV and of course it’s Covid, Covid, Covid…..