Victoria’s purpose-built Mickleham quarantine facility will close next week, having cost more than $500m to build and after housing 2,168 guests.
The facility, in Melbourne’s outer north, was operated by the Victorian government but built and paid for by the commonwealth after Covid-19 leaked out of Victoria’s hotel quarantine program.
It was initially estimated to cost $200m, but the federal government revised its estimate in February to $580m.
With quarantine requirements for international arrivals lifted and cases falling, Victoria’s police minister, Anthony Carbines, said on Tuesday the quarantine hub had served its purpose.
“Australia needed these facilities before the pandemic first hit – but this important facility now exists as an insurance policy in the event of a future pandemic, or to provide accommodation in emergencies like natural disasters,” he said.
Some Mickleham staff will continue working to shut down the site before it is handed back to the commonwealth on 1 January. The facility will be considered for other potential uses, including emergency accommodation ahead of summer, the government said.
With capacity for 1,000 people, the facility catered for unvaccinated international arrivals who had to undergo seven days of isolation upon their arrival in the state. Adult travellers paid a fee of $1,500 to stay at the facility, with $500 charged for each additional adult and $250 for children aged three to 18.
The centre was also open to Victorians unable to safely isolate at home, including close contacts or frontline workers, free of charge.
In March, the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, flagged that Mickleham could be used as short-term accommodation for Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion. Other suggestions were the facility could one day house domestic violence victims or flood evacuees.
In July, Queensland mothballed its Wellcamp facility at a cost of more than $200m.