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Travellers Forced into Hotel Quarantine After Rules Changed During 6-Hour Flight Delay

Travellers Forced into Hotel Quarantine After Rules Changed During 6-Hour Flight Delay

A group of Virgin Australia passengers have been forced into mandatory hotel quarantine after a sudden rule change that took effect when their flight from the Western Australian city of Perth to Brisbane was in mid-air. The passengers would have made it to Brisbane in time to avoid being placed into hotel quarantine if it hadn’t been for a six hour ground delay.

Virgin Australia flight VA469 was due to depart Perth at 1:40 pm on Friday but due to an engineering problem, the plane didn’t depart until 7:20 pm. The plane was sat on the tarmac at Perth International Airport as the city entered a snap three-day lockdown to contain a small cluster of COVID-19 infections that started at a medi-hotel in the city.

After departure, health officials in Queensland took drastic action to restrict travellers from Perth for fear that an infected passenger could import COVID-19 into the state. The quarantine order was signed while the Virgin Australia flight was in the air and the airline says no one told it the rules had suddenly changed.

In fact, Virgin Australia says it only found out that the passengers on VA469 would be required to go into quarantine via a Tweet on Queensland Health’s official Twitter feed after the flight had already landed.

Health officials later told passengers on the flight that they would have to quarantine for at least 14-days and have at least one COVID-19 test. Luckily, the passengers were told they wouldn’t need to pay for their quarantine stay.

But on Monday, Queensland Health said it would cut the quarantine short after Perth decided to lift its snap lockdown after no further cases of community transmission were detected. Passengers will be permitted to leave isolation early if they test negative

“WA has done an excellent job of containing their cases to just three,” commented Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young. “Once they went into lockdown, Queensland, like other states, acted swiftly with an abundance of caution to limit any risk of transmission here.”

We know prevention measures can be inconvenient, but they are necessary to protect Queenslanders,” Dr Young continued.

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