A decision to allow NRL WAGs and officials to fly to Queensland to quarantine at a resort for 14 days while suspending the state’s quarantine program for 14 days has sparked outrage.
The chartered flight arrived in Brisbane late yesterday from Sydney, a declared Covid hotspot.
Last week, the Queensland government announced it would suspend its hotel quarantine program for arrivals from NSW, Victoria and the ACT as the number of people returning or moving to the state had overwhelmed the system.
“Queensland is loved to the death,” Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“We don’t have space at the moment. We are stretched to the limit.
“It’s too much pressure, it puts our employees and our community at risk.”
About 500 partners and children of NRL stars had previously arrived on the Gold Coast on July 21
The arrival of the NRL WAGs and officials does not mean that “a Queenslander or returning Australian will miss a hotel room,” Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said Tuesday.
The decision came into effect just two hours after it was announced, with people stranded in transit or preparing to move to Queensland.
Queenslanders were quick to reject the decision, which appears to favor the needs of the NRL over residents of the state who are currently unable to travel home to quarantine.
“Another clear example of the VIP double standard that has been going on for months in Queensland,” one person posted online.
“Regardless of where they stay or who pays, other Queenslanders are stranded on the highway because there is supposedly no place in hotel quarantine.”
On Tuesday morning, Steve Gollschewski, deputy commissioner of Queensland Police, said he could “guarantee” the NRL would not receive preferential treatment.
“I understand people’s frustration, this is such a difficult time for our entire community, but what I can give a guarantee to everyone is that no Queenslander or Australian returning home will miss out on a hotel room because of those arrangements with the NRL,” he said. .
Commissioner Gollschewski defended the decision because the NRL bubble operated ‘outside’ the hotel quarantine system. He said the humanitarian relocations of Afghans displaced by the current crisis in the country were the same.
“They are let in under Dr. Young,” he said.
Queensland opposition leader David Crisafulli asked Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk at Question Time why she had “privileged a sporting entourage over ordinary Queensland residents”
Ms Palaszczuk was forced to defend the decision in state parliament on Tuesday when opposition leader David Crisafulli asked her at Question Time why she had “privileged a sporting entourage over ordinary Queensland residents”.
The Prime Minister again said the NRL schemes were ‘outside’ the hotel quarantine program and were not considered part of the cap on numbers in hotels.
On Monday, Mrs. Palaszcuzk also forced to defend the arrival of Australian and Indian cricketers in hotel quarantine in the state ahead of the women’s series.
“I didn’t grant the waivers, the chief health officer granted the waivers,” she said.
“What I say to the people of Queensland who live in other parts of the country and want to go home: We are committed to looking at alternative accommodation to make sure you get home safely.”
It is not the first time that Queensland residents have been confused about the NRL’s move to the state until the end of the 2021 season.
About 500 partners and children of NRL stars arrived on the Gold Coast on July 21 to quarantine for two weeks at a luxury resort on the Gold Coast.
Some soon had trouble passing items between rooms through their balconies, leading to Dr. Jeannette Young said the code’s bubble rule approval could be revoked if there were more breaches.
In mid-July, a bride and groom were evicted from their hotel rooms just days before their wedding to make way for NRL teams quarantined at the Twin Waters Novotel resort in Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast.
Young couple Kathryn McDowell and Andrew Hettige booked eight to 10 rooms for the bridal party but were bumped into housing the Penrith Panthers, Manly Sea Eagles, Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters as they left Sydney to escape the lockdown.
The conference booking of a group of foster parents in the same resort was also disrupted by the arrival of the NRL.
Brisbane currently has 22 hotels contracted to provide hotel quarantine facilities for returning travelers.
When the program reopens on September 8, people entering Queensland will be required to re-apply for a border pass and make a booking to enter the hotel quarantine.
Exemptions for medical or compassionate purposes remain for those entering the hotel quarantine.