Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appears to have backed down on the pause to the state’s hotel quarantine program, re-opening it from this Saturday – but at this stage, just 50 families will be allowed to return.
‘As of Saturday, Queensland residents can begin returning from interstate hotspots into hotel quarantine in Queensland,’ she told state parliament.
The decision to re-start the hotel quarantine program follows a day after the outrage caused by government’s decision to allow NRL WAGs and officials to arrive in Queensland on Tuesday afternoon while other residents remained stranded interstate.
Resumption of the hotel quarantine program will occur four days earlier than planned.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appears to have backed down on the closure to the state’s hotel quarantine program, announcing 50 families will be allowed to return from Saturday, four days ahead of the September 8 date originally given as the end of the pause
Around 500 partners and children of NRL stars had earlier arrived on the Gold Coast on July 21
The arrival of the NRL WAGs and officials will not mean ‘one Queenslander or returning Australian is missing out on a hotel room,’ Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said
Queensland announced no new cases of Covid community transmission on Wednesday, with one overseas case detected in hotel quarantine.
Last week Ms Palasazczuk announced the hotel quarantine program for arrivals from Covid hotspots NSW, Victoria and the ACT would be paused until Wednesday, September 8, because the number of people returning or relocating to the state had overwhelmed the system.
‘Numbers in our quarantine hotels have only slightly eased so we can offer places to 50 as a start but we will add more places as rooms become available,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
It was not clear as yet how the places would be allocated.
The chartered flight for the NRL arrived into Brisbane late yesterday from Sydney, a declared Covid hotspot.
Queenslanders were quick to slam the decision as a ‘double standard’, preferencing the NRL’s needs over residents of the state who are currently unable to travel home to begin isolation because of the pause on hotel quarantine.
‘Another clear example of the double standards for VIPs that have gone on for months in Queensland,’ a person posted online.
‘Regardless of where they are staying or who is paying, other Queenslanders have been stranded interstate because there is supposedly no room in hotel quarantine.’
Ms Palaszczuk was forced to defend the decision in state parliament on Tuesday, when Opposition Leader David Crisafulli asked her in Question Time why she had ‘prioritised a sporting entourage over everyday Queenslanders’.
The premier again said the NRL arrangements were ‘outside’ of the hotel quarantine program, and were not considered part of the cap on numbers in hotels.
On Monday Ms Palaszcuzk was also forced to defend the arrival of Australian and Indian cricketers into hotel quarantine in the state ahead of the women’s series.
‘I didn’t grant the exemptions, the chief health officer granted the exemptions,’ she said.
‘What I say to Queenslanders that are in other parts of the nation and want to come home, we are doing everything we can to look at alternative accommodations to make sure that you can come home safely.’
‘Numbers in our quarantine hotels have only slightly eased so we can offer places to 50 as a start but we will add more places as rooms become available,’ Ms Palaszczuk told the Queensland state parliament on Wednesday
Queensland Opposition Leader David Crisafulli asked Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Question Time why she had ‘prioritised a sporting entourage over everyday Queenslanders
Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said he could ‘guarantee’ that the NRL was not getting preferential treatment.
‘I can understand people’s frustration, this is such a difficult time for all of our community, but what I can give everyone a guarantee is that not one Queenslander or returning Australian is missing 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’ of the hotel quarantine system. He said humanitarian relocations of Afghans displaced by the current crisis in the country were the same.
‘They are being allowed in under strict conditions set by Dr Young,’ he said.
It’s not the first time Queensland residents have been up in arms about the NRL’s relocation to the state until the end of the 2021 season.
Around 500 partners and children of NRL stars arrived on the Gold Coast on July 21 to quarantine in a luxury resort on the Gold Coast for two weeks.
Some were soon in trouble for passing items between rooms via their balconies, leading to Dr Jeannette Young saying approval of the code’s bubble arrangement might be revoked if there were further breaches.
In mid-July, a bride and groom were kicked out of their hotel rooms just days before their wedding to make way for NRL teams moving in to quarantine 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 to accommodate the Penrith Panthers, Manly Sea Eagles, Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters, as they rushed out of Sydney to escape lockdown.
The conference booking of a foster parents’ group at the same resort was also disrupted by the NRL’s arrival.
Brisbane currently has 22 hotels contracted to provide hotel quarantine facilities for returning travellers.
People entering Queensland once the hotel quarantine arrangements re-open will need to reapply for a border pass and make a booking to enter hotel quarantine.
There remain exemptions for medical or compassionate purposes for those entering hotel quarantine.
Annastacia Palaszczuk backflips on Queensland’s hotel quarantine after backlash over NRL WAGS