Passengers forced into hotel quarantine in Brisbane because of a delayed flight could be released on Tuesday as the Perth lockdown is eased.
Flight VA 469 was due to arrive in Queensland at 8.10pm on Friday, hours ahead of the midnight cut-off for interstate travel.
But the flight was delayed and didn’t arrive until 1.20am on Saturday, with Queensland health authorities updating travel restrictions while passengers were flying across the country.
As travellers were in the sky and out of reach of phone reception, Queensland Health adopted border restrictions for Perth and Peel after West Australian Premier Mark McGowan plunged his state’s capital into a three-day lockdown.
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On arrival in Brisbane, passengers were escorted to buses and taken to hotels in Brisbane for the mandatory 14-day quarantine, with Virgin blaming an engineering failure for the delay.
But those passengers are now able to be released as long as they agree to strict Queensland Health directives and they hadn’t visited a number of sites identified by the WA government as high risk venues, chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said.
“Everyone who has had a negative test, who has not been in any of those 28 venues that WA has named and (who has) somewhere they can tell us they’re going to be for the next 14 days so it’s easy for us to contact them,” she told reporters on Tuesday morning.
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“If they don’t have anywhere to go to, they’ll be remaining in the hotel and they need to sign that they agree if they develop any symptoms at all they will immediately isolate themselves and get tested.
“If people agree to those arrangements then they should be released this afternoon.”
The airline had previously adopted a policy to inform passengers of border closures to allow customers the opportunity to forego the flight and mandatory quarantine, but the timing of Friday’s announcement meant passengers were unable to be told of the border restriction change.
“It is our priority, and we work very hard, to update guests where possible on restrictions announced by states and territories prior to travel, including at departure gates,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson said in a statement to NCA NewsWire.
“We have worked, and continue to closely work, with all relevant authorities on managing the impacts of border closures.”