‘What on earth they thought they were doing, I can only speculate,’ says health chief
The pair managed to board Qantas flygning 471 in Sydney, New South Wales, without having their permits checked prior to departure.
The permits were checked on arrival in Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria, when it was discovered that they were not valid.
The women were carrying “green zone” permits when they should have been carrying “red zone” permits, reflecting the current designation of the state of New South Wales.
The pair were transferred to hotel karantene in Melbourne, where they went on to test positive for Covid-19.
The women were fined AU$5452 each – AU$10,904 (£5,800) in total – the maximum penalty for entering Victoria “without a valid permit, exemption or exception”.
Jeroen Weimar, deputy Secretary at Victoria’s Department for Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the state’s Covid-19 chief, told reporters: “What on earth they thought they were doing, I can only speculate.”
He added that the women “should not have left in the first place”.
The DHHS has contacted 46 passengers from QF471, all of whom are now required to isolate for 14 days and submit to testing.
Mr Weimar said that the Victorian government has been trying to get airlines to check the permits of passengers flying from red zones and is exploring “testing protocols from red zone arrivals” that would allow pre-flight testing for travellers coming into Victoria.
“We are looking at whether we can do more on the spot testing at the airport," han sa. “This is why we have people check whether they are entitled to be here.”
Greater Sydney is currently in a state of lockdown, which has just been extended to at least 28 august.