Fears over how German couple dodged quarantine before Melbourne trip

·3-min read

Authorities are investigating how two international travellers managed to skip mandatory quarantine after arriving in Sydney from Germany before continuing on to Melbourne.

The 176 passengers and crew who travelled on Virgin flight VA838 that left Sydney at midday on Saturday and arrived in Melbourne at 1.25pm are now under a stay-at-home warning from Victoria’s health department as it begins testing and contact tracing.

Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley is demanding an explanation into how the breach occurred from NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

“I’ve spoken to Minister Hazzard to seek an explanation as to how it was that the security arrangements at Sydney Airport saw the two passengers avoid their hotel quarantine obligations in Sydney and travel to Melbourne,” Mr Foley said.

“He has assured me a full investigation will be completed so it cannot occur again.”

A virgin flight
Passengers on a Virgin flight are being warned after an international couple skipped quarantine. Source: AAP

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt spoke to Sky News Sunday morning calling on Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram to work with NSW so he can “understand the circumstances” that allowed the German couple to dodge quarantine in Sydney.

Mr Hunt insisted there were “multiple layers of protection” in place to protect Australia’s from coronavirus despite the breach.

"There's always risk when we're dealing with (passengers arriving from) overseas and our task is to have these different layers or different rings of protection and it's worked here," he said.

The pair are now in mandatory quarantine in Melbourne and initially turned a negative test result.

Victoria ready for a ‘Covid-normal’ summer

The breach comes as Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton indicates relaxing face mask guidelines as the state moves closer to a “Covid-normal” summer, signifying a final easing of attendance restrictions on community sport, hospitality venues, gatherings and visitors to the home.

"We will move to a phase where there is an even more limited use of masks in public," he told state parliament's public accounts and estimates committee on Friday.

Victoria on Sunday celebrated its 37th day of no new or active cases of coronavirus, with 8377 tests conducted in the past 24 hours. The state has been free of locally-transmitted cases for more than a month.

Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley (right) at a press conference with Daniel Andrews (left)
Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley (right) is demanding an explanation into the breach as the state gets ready to introduce a 'Covid-safe' summer by easing restrictions. Source: AAP

Revamped hotel quarantine program

A revamped hotel quarantine program will be put to the test from Monday as Melbourne reopens to international arrivals.

Five international flights from Colombo, Doha, Hong Kong and Singapore are scheduled to arrive at Melbourne Airport on Monday.

Daily arrivals will be initially capped at 160 people.

The government will introduce legislation to charge for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The fees will be set at $3000 per adult, $1000 for each additional adult in a room and $500 for children aged between three and 18 years.

No security guards will be involved in the new-look program. All staff will be employed or directly contracted by the government, except cleaning staff, who are on fixed-term contracts with Alfred Health.

Hundreds of police officers will act as security as well as undertake floor monitoring in "health hotels", which will house travellers who test positive.

Australian Defence Force personnel will support police.

with AAP

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