Travel Trouble

Virus rules change mid-flight for shocked passengers

Virus rules change mid-flight for shocked passengers

Footage shared on Twitter by ABC journalist Bridget Fitzgerald shows the bizarre moment police told passengers they would be required to self-quarantine following a cluster of cases in NSW’s Northern Beaches.

Authorities boarded the flight soon after landing in Perth and informed passengers there had been “changes” to legislation while they were in the air.

“Unfortunately while your aircraft has been in the air, there have been some changes to legislation in relation to quarantining,” he informs the packed-flight.

Those travelling from NSW to WA will now be required to self-quarantine under changes that have immediately followed following a COVID-19 outbreak in the eastern state.

WA Premier Mark McGowan was forced to announce the changes on Thursday afternoon following a cluster in Sydney’s Northern Beaches that has ballooned to 17 cases.

Anyone who has arrived from NSW since December 11, or was in NSW from December 11 and subsequently arrived in WA, must self-quarantine as soon as possible.

Those people must also present for a COVID-19 test within 24 hours and then return to self-quarantine until a negative test result is confirmed.

Anyone that has been in NSW on or after December 11 must take a test at Perth Airport on arrival or at another COVID-19 clinic within 24 hours.

It is now required they follow the same self-quarantine requirement until a negative test result is confirmed.

Those who have arrived from NSW after December 11 will be contacted by police.

“These are extra precautionary and immediate steps the state government is taking to protect all Western Australians, based on our expert health advice,” Mr McGowan said.

“As I have said previously, we will not hesitate to change our border controls if the health advice recommends,” Mr McGowan said.

“I understand these changes will cause some frustration and uncertainty for some people.

“We ask for your patience and understanding as we take these steps to protect the health of all Western Australians.”

The first case was an aircrew van driver who lives in southern Sydney followed by two cases in the Northern Beaches that were confirmed on Wednesday.

17 cases have since arisen in the Sydney area.

“Whilst that might be upsetting for people, we’ll do what we have to do to keep having a great record in WA and keep the health and welfare of West Australians paramount,” Mr McGowan said.

“I’m very sympathetic to people who want to visit family and catch up with parents and children over the course of the Christmas period.

“It’s been a long year and we know that many people are excited.”

Mr McGowan said he was told one of the cases confirmed had been waiting on a test but had not quarantined, which was “unacceptable conduct”.

“These sorts of things are the threat vector to Australia,” he said.

Before the self-quarantine requirement was announced, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters “Mark’s a cautious guy” but he would make decisions based on advice.

“I know there are lots of people looking to reunite with their Western Australian families over Christmas,” Mr Morrison said.

“They wouldn’t want to be seeing those plans disrupted, and I’m sure the Premier is very conscious of that.”

Mr McGowan said WA had set a world record of 250 days without a case of community transmission.

“Nowhere else in the world can say that,” the Premier said.

“It has now resulted in outstanding economic outcomes for our state.

“I just want to keep that record in place.”