Police have cleared Brownlow Medallist and Fremantle Dockers captain Nat Fyfe of any wrongdoing after he was spotted surfing near Margaret River in what appeared to be breach of strict coronavirus travel bans.
Intrastate border restrictions are in place in WA, separating each of the state’s nine region’s from Perth, and West Australians have repeatedly been told not to travel to holiday homes or away from their primary place of residence.
Fyfe drew the attention of Margaret River locals when he pulled into a beach car park at Gas Bay on Friday morning.
The ABC approached the 28-year-old for comment as he walked back to a car after his surf but he declined, asking instead that his privacy be respected.
Subsequent calls were then placed to Fremantle Dockers management and Fyfe’s personal manager, Jason Dover, but neither was prepared to offer comment other than to say he was driving trucks for his father, picking up a delivery of lime in Margaret River.
Dockers Media manager Luke Morfesse said Fyfe was simply taking the opportunity to surf in lieu of exercise.
Police confirm no offence committed
At a media conference on Thursday afternoon, WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson confirmed police were investigating the incident.
But after reviewing the matter, police released a statement on Thursday night clearing Fyfe of any wrongdoing.
“It has been confirmed that Mr Fyfe entered the region in order to provide transport services and was waiting for a truck to be loaded when he went surfing,” the statement said.
“As a result, Mr Fyfe had a valid exemption and was compliant with directions regarding regional travel.
“It has further been established that Mr Fyfe did not breach social distancing requirements.
“The intent of the directions is to reduce travel in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Western Australia.
“Exemptions for regional travel do apply, but exempt travellers must only travel as required and must only stay in the region for as long as it takes to complete the essential service.”
Commissioner Chris Dawson said the interpretation of the law had been examined and it had been determined that Fyfe did not commit any breaches.
“The spirit of the law is that people apply common sense and only move to another region for the purposes of performing an essential service,” Mr Dawson said.
“I will change my directions if I learn of people’s behaviours putting others at risk.
Fyfe was photographed with the captain of the Australian hockey team Aran Zalewski.
Hockey Australia released a brief statement in response to enquiries from the ABC.
“When Aran is not required at Hockey Australia’s High Performance Program as part of the Kookaburras, his primary place of residence is in Margaret River,” the statement said.
“There is certainly no intention on his part not to follow the Premier’s directive.”
In WA travelling into another region without a valid reason could result in a fine of up to $50,000.