The Queensland government has granted border passes to more than 100 NRL players’ family members and league officials while the NSW border is closed.
A chartered plane arrived from Sydney on Monday afternoon, despite Queensland’s health orders prohibiting anyone but essential workers who have had at least one vaccine dose entering from NSW.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk distanced herself from the exemption process before cabinet on Monday afternoon.
“I didn’t grant the exemptions, the chief health officer granted the exemptions,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk also defended the government’s decision to allow Australia and India women’s cricketers into hotel quarantine ahead of their series, despite a two-week halt of the quarantine program due to capacity strain.
“It’s outside the cap so it’s not to do with the cap that is used for domestic [quarantine],” she said.
A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk told the ABC on Tuesday that those on the NRL charter flight did not go into the state government’s hotel quarantine program.
He said other hotels could be completely booked out by organisations to be used for the 14-day mandatory quarantine period.
An NRL official told the ABC that the families were staying in a Brisbane hotel. He did not know which hotel.
Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski told ABC Radio Brisbane the hotel used by the NRL group “not part” of Queensland’s hotel quarantine system.
He said he could understand people being frustrated with the arrangements.
“This is such a difficult time for all of our community, we understand that,” he said.
“But what I can give everyone is a guarantee that not one Queensland or returning Australian is missing out on a spot because of those arrangements.”
The exemptions are grating for thousands of Queenslanders and interstate residents who are stuck outside the state after the NSW border closed, and later domestic hotel quarantine was paused.
One those people is Sharen Gordon, a cancer patient who’s been stuck in the NSW border town of Chinderah after attending her mother’s funeral in Victoria on July 23.
“Yeah, I do struggle, some days it’s really hard not to just curl up in a ball and cry,” she told Nine’s Today program.
The Queenslander and her husband were denied entry to her state and decided to quarantine in a hotel room at Chinderah for 14 days.
They then applied for an exemption to enter, but Queensland Health took 17 days to respond with a rejection.
Ms Gordon said she was told to drive to Sydney, then fly to Queensland and go into self-funded hotel quarantine for 14 days,.
“It’s not fair. You know, we live … I live 78 kilometres from where I’m standing now. And I can drive there directly without stopping,” she said.
“Well, I live on nine acres (3.6 hectares). I don’t have to see anybody. I don’t have to have any contact. I can easily quarantine at home. And I just … they won’t let me.”
The Queensland government has previously ruled out a trial of home quarantine arrangements until it sees the results of the trial underway in South Australia.
However, Ms Palaszczuk is set to announce the government will trial home quarantine for children who go to boarding school interstate in areas that are not classified as COVID-19 hotspots
Currently boarders must go into hotel quarantine with one of their parents or guardians if they want to return to Queensland.
Under the trial, students will be allowed to self-isolate with their entire families in their homes for 14 days.