The Queensland Premier has apologised for the recent influx of NRL players’ families, admitting it wasn’t a good look when residents were locked out of their own state.
Annastacia Palaszczuk issued the apology on Friday as she announced zero new cases of COVID-19.
She conceded Queenslanders were angered by the arrival of about 100 partners and children of NRL players, along with some league officials, when there was a ban on interstate arrivals.
“I apologise, it was not the right thing to do when we had the pause,” she said.
“It shouldn’t have happened. Unfortunately, it did happen, and I extend my apologies to the public about that.”
The NRL incident sparked a furious public response because it happened during a two-week ban on interstate arrivals due to a lack of hotel quarantine rooms.
Ms Palaszczuk initially defended the NRL influx saying the arrivals were staying at an NRL-funded hotel that wasn’t one of Queensland’s quarantine hotels.
She also said it wasn’t her call to let them in and chief health officer Jeannette Young had made the decision.
On Friday, Ms Palaszczuk said she’d had time to reflect.
“They were out there they were outside the cap,” she said but added: “I understand that Queenslanders could see that while we were restricting the number of Queenslanders who could come in, it was not the right look. I accept that.”
Dr Young later said she was confident two infected truck drivers who were in Queensland while infectious with COVID-19 posed a low risk.
And she was relieved to report that a Gold Coast family accused of making an illegal trip to Melbourne and back had tested negative. They remain in quarantine.
But Friday’s news conference ended with an unusual outburst of anger when Dr Young was asked what level of COVID-19 deaths she would be comfortable with.
The question was asked in the context of Doherty Institute modelling the federal government is relying on to open up the country. It details the deaths that can be expected under different pandemic scenarios.
“Come on, can you please remember who I am?” Dr Young replied.
“I’m not comfortable with any deaths that are preventable, so that’s why I want every single Queenslander to be vaccinated, because that is the best protection.”
She said the public health decisions she made had nothing to do with politics.
“I’m not making political decisions. I am making … No, sorry, you’ve got me quite upset now.”
Before her apology over the NRL arrivals, Ms Palaszczuk had some good news for people affected by the ban on interstate arrivals.
From Monday, an extra 680 hotel quarantine rooms will be available, adding to 50 that open up on Saturday.
“We did have that pressure cooker situation. Having that week of respite has been really good,” Ms Palaszczuk said.