Queensland’s first dedicated regional quarantine facility is moving ahead quickly with the first accommodation modules now installed at the Wellcamp site near Toowoomba.
The facility’s first stage of accommodation modules, offering 500 beds and operational buildings has been built and commissioned by Wagner Corporation, with another 500 beds planned to be added later this year.
Queensland’s Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said the facility was ready to support Queensland’s COVID-19 response.
“The Queensland Regional Accommodation Centre at Wellcamp is ready to support Queensland’s response to the Omicron wave,” Mr Miles said.
“With the Centre coming online, we have added a purpose-built facility to our options for providing safe and secure accommodation, significantly reducing reliance on hotel quarantine.”
Mr Miles said the facility would be available for unvaccinated international arrivals required to quarantine as well as people who require suitable isolation accommodation.
“There are currently hundreds of people who are required to isolate but cannot isolate at home; travellers who test positive but do not have a home in Queensland, homeless and vulnerable Queenslanders, and those without a suitable home to quarantine in including those with vulnerable household members.
“This number will likely increase through the peak of this wave and there will be an ongoing need for suitable isolation accommodation.”
The Centre also offers future non-quarantine uses to benefit the local region, including accommodation for visitors, construction and agricultural workers and students.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Joanne Greenfield has been appointed to the role of Quarantine Commissioner to oversee operations at the facility.
The Queensland Government have taken a 12-month lease to operate the Centre, with an option for an additional 12 months.
Wagner Corporation Chairman John Wagner said the completion of stage one was a significant achievement.
“Wellcamp will be ready for guests within six months of the project’s announcement in August 2021,” Mr Wagner said.
“This is a significant achievement given the weather delays experienced as well as the supply chain and workforce disruptions caused by COVID.
“This is a project that will continue to bring benefits to the local region. There have been more than 400 workers on site during construction and the start of operations is now bringing more jobs and supply-chain opportunities.”
In addition to the regional accommodation centre at Wellcamp, the Queensland Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Government in August last year for the Commonwealth to build a purpose-built quarantine facility at Pinkenba, 8.5 kilometres from the centre of Brisbane.
Last week, Brisbane Times reported the new Pinkenba village at Damascus Barracks could be turned into disaster or refugee accommodation as part of a transition away from its original purpose, given the diminishing reliance on quarantines.
The Pinkenba facility, owned by the Commonwealth, was expected to be finished in March 2022.
Mr Miles said the Wellcamp facility, which would scale up from 500 beds to 1000 beds this year, would begin taking guests next month.