British billionaire Lord Alan Sugar and his wife were given the green light to skip government-run hotel quarantine and isolate privately after they touched down in Sydney.
The 73-year-old business magnate is in Australia to film Channel 9’s Celebrity Apprentice Australia – a reality show he has fronted for 15 seasons in the UK.
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Lord Sugar has been married to Ann Simons since 1968.
He fired off a tweet about their international flight on Thursday, considered by many to be tone-deaf to the situation faced by tens of thousands of Aussies who remain stranded overseas.
Many Australians with economy tickets have complained about airlines bumping them from confirmed seats in favour of higher-paying passengers.
Asked if he would be spending 14 days in quarantine, Lord Sugar replied: “Yes indeed.”
He told one critic the situation presented the “same rules for me and a tosser like you”, including “strict” quarantine.
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However on Sunday, a NSW Police spokesman told news.com.au the couple had submitted a proposal to quarantine in a private facility.
“The couple is compliant with the Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2020 and did not require an exemption from quarantine requirements,” he said.
“The couple submitted a proposal to acquire appropriate, independent locations to be nominated as ‘Quarantine Facilities’ as allowed under the Public Health Order.
“The couple is required to abide by the same regulations as any other returned traveller.”
The order stipulates that overseas arrivals must undertake mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
“The Commissioner of Police may designate, in writing, any premises or type of premises the Commissioner considers appropriate to be a quarantine facility for the purposes of this Order,” it states.
In New South Wales at present, mandatory hotel quarantine costs $3000 for one adult and $1000 per additional adult.
“You cannot choose your quarantine accommodation and all attempts have been made to source suitable accommodation for quarantine purposes,” the “quarantine rules” website states.
Earlier this month, it emerged that Hollywood actor Tom Hanks had been granted permission to quarantine at a Gold Coast resort upon his return to Australia after overcoming COVID-19.
“The industry plan for COVID in relation to the screen industry is a plan that has been approved, just like there is for the resources industry, just like there is for the agriculture industry,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“Under that plan, they have to stay in the place for two weeks, just like everybody else.
“They will have random checks, as is my understanding, by police.”
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington labelled it a case of “shocking” double standards.
“We need every single dollar in our state,” Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young said at a press conference explaining the Hanks decision.
“I have given exemptions from people in entertainment and film because that is bringing a lot of money into this state.”
Similar treatment was given to billionaire media mogul Kerry Stokes at the height of the first wave in Australia following a trip to Aspen.
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban were also reportedly able to isolate in their Southern Highlands estate in July.
Dannii Minogue and her 10-year-old son Ethan stayed at a private Gold Coast residence for the 14-day period after returning from Los Angeles after she received a medical exemption for claustrophobia.
Lord Sugar will serve as chief executive on Celebrity Apprentice Australia, to air in 2021.
Contestants include personal trainer and TV personality Michelle Bridges, Michael “Wippa” Wipfli from Nova FM’s Fitzy & Wippa radio show, and Olympic gymnast Olivia Vivian.