A flight delay and an emergency change to border rules has seen unlucky passengers flying from Perth to Brisbane being forced into hotel quarantine for 14 days.
The Queensland Government closed its border to the Perth and Peel regions of Western Australia on Friday night, after Brisbane-bound Virgin flight 469 had already departed Perth.
The updated border requirements, in response to hotel quarantine outbreak fears in Perth and the neighbouring Peel region of Western Australia, means travellers from those hotspots have to go into 14 days of hotel quarantine upon arrival into Queensland.
The changes went into effect at 12.01am on Saturday morning, and the Virgin flight landed at Brisbane airport around 1.30am, the Courier Mail reported.
An estimated 150 passengers on the packed flight were then shuffled off the plane and taken to the Pullman airport hotel to begin 14 days of quarantine, one passenger, Adrian, told the newspaper.
“It’s just appalling,” he said. “The decision was made while we were flying and we had no opportunity to change travel plans.”
Had an engineering issue not caused a six-hour delay for the Virgin flight, it would have made it to Brisbane before the border rules changed at midnight. In that case, passengers would have simply been allowed to isolate at home while awaiting a negative COVID-19 test, the Courier Mail reported.
Adrian said a letter from health officials told him he wouldn’t have to pay for hotel quarantine, as he was “not able to be made reasonably aware of the entry restrictions and requirements for hotel quarantine” before departure.
However, the Brisbane man, who was only in Perth for a three-day work trip, said the exemption should have also allowed passengers to quarantine at home, instead of the hotel.
State borders now shut
Almost all of Australia’s states and territories have changed their border entry requirements for parts of Western Australia following Premier Mark McGowan’s announcement of a three-day lockdown for Perth and Peel on Friday.
Travel between New Zealand and Western Australia has also been put on pause, pending further advice from the WA Government.
The Queensland border is closed to anyone who had been in the Perth and Peel regions in the last 14 days, unless they are returning Queenslanders, who have to complete 14 days’ mandatory quarantine in government-arranged accommodation at their own expense. People who have been to Perth and Peel since but are now in Queensland still have to comply with the rules of WA’s lockdown.
NSW Health authorities have been screening arrivals at Sydney Airport and instructing those who had visited more than a dozen exposure sites in WA to get tested and self-isolate. Travellers from WA must complete a NSW entry declaration form, and those who have been in Perth or Peel since April 24 have to comply with the same lockdown orders even if they are in NSW.
In Victoria, the Perth and Peel regions are considered red zones under the state’s traffic light travel permit system. This means Victorians returning from those regions have to go into hotel quarantine, and non-Victorians will be sent to hotel quarantine until a return flight is arranged. Anyone in Victoria who had visited Perth or Peel between April 17 and 23 have to be tested and self-isolate until they get a negative test.
Tasmania has declared the Perth and Peel regions high-risk areas, which means anyone travelling to Tasmania who has been in those areas in the past 14 days will not be permitted entry. Even people who are granted an exemption still have to complete 14 days of quarantine.
Only returning South Australians or essential travellers can enter South Australia from the Perth or Peel regions. They have to quarantine for 14 days and be tested on days one, five and 13. All travellers to SA have to register their travel.
The Northern Territory government said people arriving from the Perth and Peel regions have to go into mandatory quarantine.
In the Australian Capital Territory, people who visited an exposure site in WA or Victoria have to be tested and self-isolate until they get a negative result. Returning ACT residents who were in Perth or Peel on or after April 17 must fill out an online declaration form and stay at home until 2am on April 27 at least. Non-ACT residents from Perth or Peel will need an exemption to visit.