News Coronavirus ‘Just wanted to get out’: Tradie defends virus flight

‘Just wanted to get out’: Tradie defends virus flight

george thompson covid
George Thompson is accused of fleeing Sydney while he should have been isolating, for a road trip across south-east Queensland.
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The COVID-positive Sydney tradie who escaped lockdown to travel through Queensland – sparking alarm in two states – has shrugged off criticism of his interstate flight.

George Thompson first fled Sydney on a flight to Ballina, on the NSW far north coast, while he reportedly should have been in isolation.

There he was picked up by flight attendant Malynda Gray on July 14, and driven north into Queensland – only for both to later test positive to the virus.

On Thursday, Mr Thompson told Nine News he had “no idea” he had the virus when he left Sydney, which was in lockdown at the time. He said it was “fair enough” if people were furious at what he had done.

“I just wanted to get out of there,” he said.

“Just let them think what they want because I don’t really take it to heart.”

Mr Thompson, 26, has been slapped with a $10,000 fine but won’t be charged with a criminal offence

Earlier, it was reported that police had to use hotel CCTV after Ms Gray, a 36-year-old Qantaslink flight attendant, refused to reveal Mr Thompson’s name when it emerged the pair had allegedly violated Queensland’s border restrictions.

Both eventually tested positive to the virus, and are alleged to have travelled across south-east Queensland.

Ms Gray, who is also known as Mel Waterhouse, sparked alarm on six Qantas flights across regional Queensland after her positive test. She has been fined more than $4000 for bringing Mr Thompson over the NSW-Queensland border.

Under Queensland’s strict border rules, anyone who has been in a virus hotspot cannot enter the state unless they have a valid border declaration pass.

Mr Thompson is also alleged to have visited three barbers at Westfield Chermside and to have given them false information on checking in. Queensland Health learned of his COVID status only after he was identified as a close contact of Ms Gray.

It has been widely reported that Mr Thompson had been given a negative test result by a Sydney laboratory. It later told him there had been a mistake, and he was actually positive.

But he is alleged to have hidden his positive result from Queensland authorities.

He is believed to have infected Ms Waterhouse, who tested positive for the virus on July 22 after feeling unwell for about a week.

Earlier this week, a Qantas spokesperson told the ABC she had not returned to work since then because she was in hotel quarantine.

The ABC reported the company will investigate her behaviour and the events that led police to issue a $4315 fine once she returns.

Meanwhile, Mr Thompson is reportedly being treated in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Queensland police issued him with three infringement notices, alleging he opened the door of his hotel quarantine room while maskless and “verbally abused” staff after being told he had the virus.

“It is alleged after warnings, and with full knowledge of his positive COVID-19 Delta strain diagnosis, he continued to open his door while not wearing a face mask,” police said in a statement.

He has been fined for failing to comply with Queensland’s COVID-19 Border Direction ($4135), failing to comply with COVID-19 direction by providing untrue information ($4135) and failing to comply with COVID-19 Direction of an Emergency Officer ($1378).

NSW Police are also reportedly investigating the incidents that led to Mr Thompson fleeing Sydney’s lockdown.

Neither Mr Thompson nor Ms Gray have been charged.