In late March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia introduced mandatory 14-day supervised quarantine at hotels and other designated facilities for all international arrivals. From July 2020, most states and territories introduced a fixed charge for quarantine of up to $3220 per adult. The introduction of the fee was rationalised on the basis that Australians had been allowed sufficient time to return and there was a need to recover some of the cost associated with administering the program. Drawing on an empirical study of 58 returned Australian citizens and residents quarantined between March 2020 and January 2021, this paper aims to explore how people experienced paying for hotel quarantine, particularly with respect to fairness and relatedly, the principle of reciprocity. Reciprocity requires that the state has an obligation to assist individuals in discharging their duty to comply with public health measures and avoid disproportionate burdens accruing to populations or individuals. Though participants had varying opinions on whether they thought it fair to be charged for their quarantine, for many, the fee constituted a significant burden and source of stress. Given the undertaking of quarantine is primarily for the benefit of the public good, we argue the financial cost imposed on individuals does not meet the demands of reciprocity. It is imperative that future quarantine and isolation arrangements consider seriously the need to minimise burdens of individuals subject to such measures, and that fees do not become a new norm in public health and infectious disease control.