An Aussie chef has spoken about the ‘disgusting’ food while in mandatory coronavirus quarantine in a 5-star Sydney hotel.
Lyndey Milan, host of popular TV series Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia, and her partner John have been in isolation at the $250+ per night Hilton since they flew in from the UK on Sunday morning.
After being escorted from Sydney airport to their hotel room door by police officers and army personnel, the pair have largely been left in the dark by authorities as to the procedure for their 14-day lockdown.
“There’s no information, no communication. Keep us informed of what’s going on, we’re not in jail,” Lyndey tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Along with sporadic communication, Lyndey and John have been beholden to an erratic meal delivery schedule that’s left them frustrated and hungry.
After flying in at 7 am and arriving at the Hilton some hours later, it was 12.30 pm when they received “a plastic bag on the doorknob” containing some long-life milk, prepackaged muesli, an apple and not much else.
Dinner on night two arrived at 9.30 pm, cold and barely edible.
“Finally it comes and it was disgusting. I got two little boxes of gluggy rice with hard, cold deep-fried tofu on top. That’s it,” Lyndey reveals.
“We were feeling pretty down that night.”
No room service, no Uber Eats
With room service apparently off-limits and an empty minibar upon arrival, the pickings were slim.
Lyndey says Uber Eats and Woolies online delivery were initially available to them, however, those options were rescinded without warning or explanation less than 24 hours later.
“The lack of communication really gets me. Explain why, give us a reason,” she says.
Lyndey is counting her blessings after receiving some goodies from a family member but worries about those less fortunate.
“I’m a lucky one, my sister was able to drop off a care package. What about these people opposite who are from Tasmania? They haven’t got anyone to drop them off a care package and now they can’t even order in. They just get what they’re given,” she says.
‘Like headless chooks’
Lyndey describes her experience of the last few days — which she’s been documenting on her Instagram page — as chaotic at best.
“If [the authorities] can slow down the virus then I totally accept it and I think they’re doing their best but lower down there are people rushing around like headless chooks,” she says.
They were provided with two general COVID-19 information sheets in their room upon arrival but nothing detailing what they could expect for the next fortnight.
Their only other communication with those in charge so far has been via notes left at their door and the occasional phone call — if they can get through to reception, that is. Most of the time, Lyndey says, the line is engaged.
She suggests the building’s intercom system could be used to inform and reassure people throughout their two-week stay.
Instead, it was used to remind guests of the hotel’s strict non-smoking policy and the hefty fines facing any who contravened it.
Mental health concerns
Lyndey is also concerned for the mental wellbeing of others in hotel quarantine due to the obvious lack of support available.
“I don’t think anyone who is supposedly in charge has thought about what it’s like to be in a room and locked up,” she admits.
“What they could do is just think about it. Get somebody from [NSW department of] mental health or somewhere… get someone to just think about the welfare of people in isolation.
“What about those people isolated on their own while their families, their husbands, their wives are in another city?”
Lyndey recognises that her position is ‘much better’ than most and is focussed on giving those less fortunate a voice, but she also has her own struggles.
Her son Blair died eight years ago from acute myeloid leukemia. He was 29 years old and the mother-son team had just finished filming Lyndey and Blair’s Taste of Greece.
Lyndey’s daughter lives in Singapore with her own family and Lyndey misses them dearly, particularly at a trying time like this.
“I’ve just got Lucy and her children left, and that’s really, really distressing. I FaceTime with them all the time, but it’s like, when will I see them again?” she says.
Life in isolation
While the couple isn’t exactly sure when their quarantine will be over — they haven’t been told a specific date and time —in the meantime, they’re focussing on saving their global TV production and distribution business, Flame Media.
John, the company’s MD, is ‘madly trying to restructure the business so we can ride out the storm,’ Lyndey says.
“We’re under immense pressure work-wise.”
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