Mercure: could virus escape to public land?



Changes to procedures yesterday raise further doubts about the Mercure Hotel, now known as the Todd Facility, being suitable for COVID quarantine.

There are apparently concerns that the virus could escape into public land at the western side of the complex, between it and the Todd River.

A security detail has been positioned there around the clock to keep an eye on inmates using their balconies, but also, as of yesterday, to ensure that people using the public walking and bike trail do not stop outside the hotel, but keep walking or riding.

The Alice Springs News understands that the security guards are tested daily for the virus.

The area they patrol had been used by occasional visitors, standing outside the fenced facility – on public land – but having eye contact with inmates on their balconies, and chatting with them on their mobile phones.

That is now prohibited.

The News understands that if there were a leak of the virus, such a person, having lingered outside the facility, would be regarded as a “close contact” and thus have to be tested and isolated pending their test result.

The distance from the balconies to the fence is about six metres, and from the fence to the sealed trail, about another six.

Further west is the Todd River, frequently used by Aboriginal groups sitting around small fires.

On the southern side of the complex is the busy Sadadeen connector road – less than 10 metres from the building but there are no balconies and it appears the windows cannot be opened.

The News understands that twice-daily outdoor exercise sessions of 20 minutes, in an internal yard about the size of a tennis court, have been discontinued for those inmates with balconies undergoing 14-day quarantine. Again, this is ostensibly about control of virus transmission.

It is understood that there are currently over 120 people quarantined in the 139 room facility.


UPDATE 5pm July 22:

An NT Health spokesperson says waste water sampling occurs weekly in Alice Springs and to date all tests have been negative.

The most recent sample was taken on 20 July with the results expected today and tomorrow.

There are four sampling sites selected from town water sewer plans.

These separate sites allow for access to the Larapinta region, Northside region, Central Alice Springs region and Eastside and Quarantine Facility region.


  1. Hate to be the skeptic Erwin but, is the airport a sampling site and furthermore, has anyone explained why 21 people on that flight from Sydney were deemed quarantine free when 14 others were quarantined. Again, were they or are they being tracked? This should be of concern.

  2. Hate to be the skeptic Erwin but, is the airport a sampling site and furthermore, has anyone explained why 21 people on that flight from Sydney were deemed quarantine free when 14 others were quarantined? This should be of concern.
    [ED – We asked, and no, they haven’t.]

  3. Erwin, I’m only persisting on this concerning issue, as you have often done in the past with others, to get clarification in relation to the vague answer you are providing. “We asked, and no, they haven’t.” What does that reply inform me as a concerned resident and someone who credits the Alice Springs News online for it’s often necessary forensic reporting. I’m simply following up on the facts printed that not all on this contentious flight from Sydney were quarantined yet, some were. Regarding who you asked, should we be concerned?
    [ED – Sorry, Relieved, I should have made it clearer: I asked the NT Government’s COVID Media to tell our readers, via the News, where the passengers went who were not put into quarantine and COVID Media have not replied.]

  4. Shut our borders to anyone from NSW, Mr Gunner.
    Delta is out of control and spreading so quickly that hotspot based safeguards are no longer effective.
    And close our hospital to visitors.

  5. @ Jon: We need to close the borders to ALL travellers. Unsure why they are letting people in at all. Then of course there are the questions of directing people to quarantine. Judging for this police extract, they clearly can’t follow instructions:
    “A 49-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man entered the Northern Territory at Kulgera. They were directed to go to the Alice Springs Quarantine Facility and undergo 14 days mandatory quarantine after enquiries indicated they had recently been in a Victorian hotspot.
    “They did not arrive at the facility as agreed and an investigation was commenced by police to locate them. They were found at a King’s Canyon camp site and have been taken to quarantine.”
    At Relieved: Yes, surely we have a right to know where the 21 people went! Perhaps they were Pollies, so they won’t be affected by Covid.
    If the governments expect people to take this seriously, then they need to lead by example and show they are serious. It’s all very well fining people, but you only need to look at this link to see what a joke paying fines can be (and this is only $10,000 or more).


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