Rydges security guard ‘ordered to hide infected masks’
A security guard was told to hide potentially infected masks and gloves in his pocket to cover up a lack of personal protective equipment in the COVID-riddled Rydges hotel.
The man - potentially the first guard to catch the virus from infected guests - said that he had to ration his PPE and stash it in his pockets out of sight of the hotel cameras.
In explosive evidence to the hotel quarantine inquiry on Monday, he also revealed that he worked as a food delivery driver while awaiting the results of a COVID test.
"I was getting bored at my house," he said.
Known as "Security 16", he told the inquiry he began to feel well during an overnight shift at the Rydges Hotel and noticed other guards were "sniffing", but did not tell anyone.
He only got tested after remembering a sign he saw driving home that morning that urged anyone with symptoms to get tested.
The guard told the inquiry that two weeks after testing positive DHHS told him he could leave quarantine if he had not had symptoms for three days, so he again began delivering food.
But the following night he again felt sick, was hospitalised and tested positive, although it is not thought his flatmates or colleagues at a warehouse where he also worked were infected.
The inquiry was told the guard was hired by two separate subcontractors hired by Unified Security.
He was hired by WhatsApp message after approaching the firms, and was only required to send a copy of his "entry level" security licence.
"All of the arrangements were made using WhatsApp and it was very casual,'' he said in a statement.
"I was not asked to provide my visa or any hard-copy documents.
"I was not asked to undertake any extra training or read any other information about COVID-19 or infection control."
The inquiry was told the guard worked for a subcontractor called Silvan Security Pty Ltd at the Marriott and Novotel hotels in April and early May, and for SSG Security at Rydges in mid-May.
Ninety per cent of Victoria's second wave has been traced back to a family of four who were quarantined at Rydges in May.
"When I started at the Rydges Hotel nobody explained to me that some of the guests in quarantine had tested positive for COVID-19. Another security guard told me two or three days later,'' he said in a statement.
He said when he started at Rydges, he was given masks and gloves and told to throw them away and get fresh ones after each food or toilet break.
"After two or three days the rule changed," he said.
"(Name redacted) told me that there was a shortage of masks and gloves and that from now on I would get just one mask and one pair of gloves for each shift.
"He instructed me to put my mask and gloves in my pocket. He told me not to put my mask and gloves in my pocket in front of the hotel security cameras.''
A second, more senior security guard also gave evidence on Monday that there was a "clear difference'' in the running of quarantine hotels and "COVID hotels" set up to house infected health workers.
He said the COVID hotel was run by Alfred Health like a hospital ward, with more nurses, extremely strict quarantine standards and "army-like" check-in procedures for infected guests.
The man known as "Security 2'' also said guards did not wear gloves at the COVID hotel, "because they were giving guards a false sense of security.''
While he described some security guards as earning $22 an hour and "treated like cattle'' in his statement about the Pullman Hotel, he backed away at the inquiry, saying that was "a bit harsh.''
Originally published as Rydges security guard 'ordered to hide infected masks'