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Home quarantine proposed by Vic inquiry

Overseas travellers returning to Victoria would be able to quarantine at home under a model recommended by the state's hotel quarantine inquiry.

Its interim report, released on Friday, also reveals the bungled program has cost the state $195 million.

The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions spent about $133.4 million until it ceased involvement on June 30, the day flights into Melbourne were suspended and the inquiry called.

The Department of Health and Human Services spent about $51.29 million to September 16, while the Department of Justice and Community Safety outlayed $10.9 million to September 30.

"The amount incurred by DJPR alone demonstrates the considerable cost involved in securing hotel rooms, engaging security guards and acquiring specialised cleaning services," the report states.

The inquiry made 69 recommendations including that returned travellers are assessed for home quarantine suitability.

Those allowed would need to have regular COVID-19 tests during the 14-day period and face penalties if found in breach.

The inquiry also recommends the government consider electronically tracking those quarantining at home using smartphone technology or ankle or wrist bracelets.

Those unable to quarantine at home will be accommodated at hotels located near hospitals and modified for social distancing and minimal transmission risk.

Police would be on-site 24/7, alongside dedicated infection prevention and control and contact tracing units.

Staff will not be allowed to work across multiple quarantine sites or in other forms of employment.

In the words of infectious diseases specialist Professor Lindsay Grayson, the program will operate on the presumption "all those who are in quarantine are potentially infected until proven otherwise".

Victoria's second virus wave, which resulted in more than 18,000 infections and 800 deaths, can be traced to outbreaks among staff at the Rydges and Stamford Plaza hotels.

The report said it was clear the majority of those infected were private security guards "engaged by way of contracting arrangements that carried with them a range of complexities".

"Having dedicated, salaried personnel, will help to minimise the risk of transmission between quarantine sites and onwards into the community. This applies equally to clinical and non-clinical personnel," the report reads.

The report describes home quarantine as "at least as effective as a facility-based model" in preventing transmission and avoids the risk of putting people in "physical proximity with others suspected of having COVID-19".

It also reduces the number of workers required, "thereby reducing the number of people potentially being exposed".

The report said the new quarantine program must have a "clear line of command vesting ultimate responsibility" in one government department and minister.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the government would consider all recommendations and provide a comprehensive response "in due course".

Prior to the release of the report, he said it was likely many Australians wanted to return home as a second wave of COVID-19 was "completely and utterly out of control" in other parts of the world.

"The likelihood of people wanting to return to our country, and returning with the virus, is obviously higher than it's ever been. So that'll be a real challenge but I think we're equal to it," Mr Andrews told reporters.

A final report with a full set of recommendations and findings - such as who made the decision to hire private security and rebuff the Australian Defence Force's help - is due December 21.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said the interim report was "deeply disappointing" as it failed to identify what mistakes were made by government.

"There's a missed opportunity for the inquiry to actually tell Victorians what went wrong before they tell us 'this is how you fix it,'" he said.

© AAP 2020