News State Victoria News ‘Absconder’ NSW couple deny wrongdoing and blame ‘mess’ Victoria’s COVID-19 clampdown
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‘Absconder’ NSW couple deny wrongdoing and blame ‘mess’ Victoria’s COVID-19 clampdown

Melbourne airport
The NSW couple insist they spoke with Department of Health officers who were unable to say if they were free to leave Melbourne Airport. Photo: Getty
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A couple who reportedly defied Victorian public health orders have apologised for the “mess” but say they had no intention of doing the wrong thing.

Victoria Police said on Saturday they were investigating breaches of public health orders by two people travelling from Victoria into NSW.

The pair flew into Melbourne from Canberra on New Year’s Day, where Victoria’s health minister says they did not have the proper declaration and “absconded”.

“They came in from Canberra, they did not have the appropriate declaration material and they would have been heading straight into compulsory hotel quarantine,” Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said.

“They absconded. They disappeared in a vehicle and they were next heard of in Goulburn in New South Wales.”

Mr Foley said they each face fines of at least $19,000.

However, in an email statement from Terry and Debbie Elford sent to media on Saturday, the couple defended their actions and expressed shock at seeing media reports about themselves.

“We really are very sorry for the mess that this has caused,” Mr Elford wrote.

He said the couple got caught up in the confusion about when the rules about entering Victoria had changed, like hundreds of others had.

“We had a permit, live in a green zone in NSW, were flying from Canberra airport which is allowed, and after we arrived in Tullamarine, we were stopped by (Department of Health and Human Services) officers who were not able to tell us whether or not we needed to quarantine, so after about an hour or so we walked away.”

The couple attended an outdoor family BBQ before flying back into Canberra that afternoon for a medical appointment – plans which they explained to the officers, Mr Elford said.

The pair were “really shocked” to read the stories in the media about their actions and contacted Goulburn police to sort it out.

“We also have proactively gone to get a COVID-19 test this morning, and will be self-isolating,” he said.

-AAP