The seven passengers off the final international flight from Doha to Canberra via Sydney on Saturday morning could be sent home to self-isolate as soon as Monday.
On Friday evening Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced all overseas arrivals would be quarantined in hotels to prevent people flouting the 14-day self-isolation rule.
While around the country the new rules would apply from midnight on Saturday, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said on Friday the Canberrans arriving on the Qatar Airways flight would be quarantined in the Burbury Hotel in Barton.
An ACT Health spokesperson said a new Public Health Emergency Direction came into effect in the ACT at 6am on Saturday.
"The Direction follows the new measures announced by the Prime Minister yesterday for returning travellers, which were to come into effect "as soon as possible, but no later than 11:59pm Saturday", the spokesperson said.
"As part of this instrument, there is provision for the Chief Health Officer to review the quarantine arrangements after 48 hours and may give clearance to people who she is confident can comply with mandatory home quarantine and their home situation is safe for them to return to."
The spokesperson said ACT Health staff will assess the ability of these returning travellers to safely quarantine at home, without potentially exposing other family members.
At Canberra Airport on Saturday morning, an ACT Health staffer told family members the adequacy of their houses to accommodate someone in isolation would likely be assessed over the phone.
A spokesperson said whether or not someone of high-risk, including the elderly, lived at the residence would be taken into consideration.
She said ideally the seven passengers would have their own bedroom, bathroom and living areas to qualify for self-isolation in their own homes.
Greg Thomas was one of the passengers who disembarked the aircraft shortly after 8.30am on Saturday.
He said he had been notified of the hotel quarantine arrangement though communication with his partner in Canberra.
Mr Thomas said when he spoke to other Canberra passengers during transit at Sydney Airport they had "no idea".
He said a member of the ACT Health department had boarded the plane when it touched down in Canberra to inform the seven guests they would be taken directly to Burbury Hotel.
Mr Thomas said while the Health official was "deeply, sympathetic and apologetic" he was surprised that "no health screening" had taken place since they arrived in Australia.
He said despite repeated Australia Government messages during the flight that they would be subject to health screening before they left the airport, his temperature had not been taken.
"They didn't even ask me if I felt unwell," Mr Thomas said.
The seven Canberrans were bussed to the Burbury Hotel and will be accommodated in separate two-bedroom self-contained apartments until the adequacy of their homes was assessed.
While the hotel closed to guests from Friday, a number of other guests were utilising its 58 self-contained apartments for self-quarantine purposes, at around $2000 per fortnight.
Mr Thomas said as the sole occupant of his apartment, he does not believe he would have posed a risk by being at home instead of the hotel.
He said despite returning from Germany - which has one of the highest rates of coronavirus - his main concern had been the transit to get back to Australia.
Mr Thomas said while his flight from Munich had only had 24 passengers, the flight from Qatar to Sydney was "pretty packed."
He said customs officers had been very lax about social distancing measures in Qatar, as had other passengers in the Doha Airport.
"If you're going to get it. That's when it's going to happen," he said.
Ainslie parents Rob and Rebecca Bennett waited for their 20-year-old son Harry Bennett to arrive from London.
Harry had been in the UK for almost 10 months, most recently working at a pub in Reigate just south of London.
The Bennetts decided to bring Harry home when he and his housemate, a fellow bar worker, lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus closures.
This was the third flight they'd attempted to get him on, after an Emirates flight due to depart on Tuesday was cancelled and a Thai Airways flight was also cancelled.
"Once he made the call about coming home it all became a bit tense," Mr Bennett said.
They paid about $2100 for the third flight.
Some of the passengers arriving in Canberra on Saturday morning were unaware they would be quarantined in a hotel, while others had been informed by family members when they were in the air.
More to come.
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