An international airline crew has copped $13,000 in fines after they were caught breaching self-isolation restrictions in Sydney.
NSW Police were informed that a crew member who had arrived in Sydney on a flight from South America on December 5 had left his accommodation at Mascot, breaching COVID-19 public health directions.
Officers attended the hotel at about 9.30pm that day before speaking with the management and other crew members.
“It will be alleged several crew members left the hotel and attended nearby businesses at Mascot,” NSW Police said.
Officers issued $1000 fine to 13 crew members for ignoring coronavirus safety restrictions.
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This comes after Premier Gladys Berejiklian has admitted the state was struggling with “disobedience” from international aircrew before the state cracked down on them.
During Friday’s press conference, Ms Berejiklian revealed there was a situation a few weeks ago where a crew member ignored isolation rules and visited multiple venues across Sydney.
“Without saying the particular airline, there was one airline crew member weeks ago that breached their isolation and went to venues,” the Premier said.
“So fortunately that doesn’t seem to have amounted to anything and was not subject to any consideration at this stage but that is an example a few weekends ago when aircrew are supposed to isolate and chose not to.
“There was a breach there and since that time we have worked with authorities about how we can manage it and with airlines to how we can manage it. It is a very complex set of circumstances.”
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant later said the entire aircrew were tested after the breach and all were negative for coronavirus.
The matter was also referred to NSW Police.
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The revelation of bad behaviour from some crew members comes as the NSW government announced it was cracking down on international airline workers.
From Tuesday, international aircrew landing in Sydney will be put into police-managed hotel quarantine after a number of leaks.
Ms Berejiklian said the previous arrangement allowed aircrew to stay at more than 25 hotels across Sydney.
Now however, due to a handful of people “disobeying what’s in place”, aircrew would be taken to two hotels near the airport, staffed by NSW Health and police.
Ms Berejiklian appreciated it would “put pressure on aircrew and airlines” but the state needed to react to recent virus leaks.
“The issue isn’t the guidelines, it’s unfortunately when people breach the guidelines or choose not to self-isolate,” she said.
“It’s people disobeying what’s in place, so there’ll be no chance of disobedience.”
Sydney’s COVID-19 cluster on the northern beaches has risen to 28 cases, with 10 more infections confirmed since 8pm last night.
The links of two cases are under urgent investigation and one case linked to the Avalon cluster has been reported in a NSW resident whose infection was diagnosed in Queensland.
Genome sequencing of the Avalon cluster has revealed the virus does not match the strains seen in recent outbreaks in Australia.
Authorities believe the virus is likely of overseas origin and possibly came from the US.
NSW’s chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, has asked northern beaches residents to give authorities time to track down all the new coronavirus cases by staying home and only going out when necessary.
“Give us some time over the next three days and stay home. If you have to go out, please wear a mask. That is our advice,” she said.
Dr Chant said Sydneysiders outside of the northern beaches area shouldn’t see themselves as risk-free.
“At this point, we don’t know how the spread occurred so there is some missing people there. Those missing people, whether one, or two, that could have set up other chains of transmission.”
She said this means testing rates need to increase across the whole state.
“We tell you one day that there are a few cases, and by the time we had the great turnout from the community and tested a whole lot, we are now at a total of 28,” Dr Chant said.
“If that had not have been detected, you can imagine a few days later that we would be announcing very high numbers. The thing I would urge the community across the state is to come out for testing.”