South Australia’s border bungle forced about 100 travellers, who drove for hours from New South Wales, to turn back after a “miscommunication” of instructions at checkpoints.
Under recent border restrictions, announced on Sunday, those from the Greater Sydney area could enter SA without quarantining up until midnight last night.
But, many travellers were told otherwise when they arrived prior to the 12am deadline, causing mass confusion at Adelaide Airport and road checkpoints.
Many people were incorrectly given the option to return to NSW or quarantine in SA for 14 days.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said there was some “miscommunication” in the process of communicating the new directions between authorities, which led to the incorrect instructions being given to border control teams.
“This obviously has had a significant impact on certain travellers, he said.
“That anomaly was identified at about 9.30pm last night and correct information was given to our border control teams.
“We obviously regret the inconvenience and disruption that this has caused people who were affected by the incorrect advice being provided to our checkpoints.”
Mr Stevens, who is also the state coordinator, said there were about 100 people who presented at the road border who decided to turn back to NSW.
There are also about 550 people who are currently quarantining and will be directly contacted by SA Police with advice on if they need to quarantine or not.
“The majority of those people will be allowed to leave quarantine immediately, but they must wait until they are spoken to by police,” Mr Stevens said.
“The reason for this is because some of those people have been in the northern beaches area, and they will still be required to quarantine for 14 days having come into SA before midnight last night.
“This is a very unfortunate set of circumstances at a very unfortunate time of the year when people are travelling to spend Christmas with their families.
“We apologise for the inconvenience but we ask people appreciate that this is exceptionally difficult work undertaken by a team of people doing their very best to protect SA from COVID-19.”
Health Minister Stephen Wade said travellers seeking compensation over the debacle could contact SA Health.
It is understood their travel costs, which would need to be supplied as proof of purchase, would be reimbursed and would be considered on a “case-by-case basis”.
“People who believe they’re entitled to compensation can make contact with SA Health,” Mr Wade said.
SA recorded no new COVID-19 infections on Monday, and currently has three active cases which are all repatriated Australians in hotel quarantine.