Health officials will inspect quarantine hotels in Perth after claims security guards were told to remove face masks because they were “upsetting and intimidating” guests.
Hundreds of overseas and interstate travellers are being isolated at hotels in Perth’s CBD for a mandatory 14-day period during the coronavirus pandemic.
The United Workers Union says dozens of security guards at the Duxton Hotel and Pan Pacific have been put at risk after being instructed by supervisors working for security contractors to remove personal protective equipment.
State secretary Carolyn Smith says many of the security guards are temporary migrant workers in vulnerable positions.
“They’re protecting the people of WA,” she told AAP.
“We’ve seen incidents with people trying to leave the quarantine. What stands between that happening and threatening the WA population is our workers.
“People tend to forget the cleaners, the security guards, people who aren’t front of mind … they are playing a critical role.”
Serco has been tasked with providing security at the Duxton but has contracted that work out to a smaller Perth-based company, Corporate Security Australia.
CSA directed enquiries to Serco, who said they were unaware of any complaints at the Duxton, where PPE was “available and worn”, and the company did not provide any service at the Pan Pacific.
The hotels are understood to have about 10 security guards working 12-hour shifts on each floor that is housing guests.
There are also safety concerns for cleaners working at the hotels.
Health Minister Roger Cook said the government expected all contractors to ensure their workers were suitably protected.
“If there is a risk to their workers by not providing them with PPE, that’s not good enough,” he told reporters.
It’s understood health department officials will visit the hotels on Thursday and speak to workers to ensure they are aware of their rights.
The state government has meanwhile ordered a review into into how a man wound up in an induced coma after quarantine staff at another Perth hotel, Crown Promenade, allegedly stopped paramedics from taking him to hospital.
Mr Cook blamed a “communication gap” between contract doctors and ambulance crews, saying measures had been put in place to make sure it did not happen again.