AFL footballers’ families given ‘inappropriate’ exemptions to enter SA

Australia Health World

Six Victorian family members of Port Adelaide footballers have had exemptions to travel to South Australia revoked after an intervention by the state’s Chief Public Health Officer, who said the decision was an “absolute mistake”.

Professor Nicola Spurrier said the six individuals were among a total of 11 relatives of Power players who had been granted exemptions by SA Health to travel into the state.

“They were family members of the Port Adelaide Football Club,” she said.

“I’m not privy to the reasons for them wanting to come here, but my presumption would be they’d be wanting to see their [relative] play in the finals.”

Five of the players’ family members have already arrived and are in hotel quarantine, and will be allowed to stay — but Professor Spurrier overruled a decision to grant the remaining six exemptions.

She said special treatment should be reserved for people visiting dying relatives or attending funerals.

“Our health exemptions really should be people with compelling compassionate reasons … in this instance, that is not the case,” she said.

The families in hotel quarantine will be allowed to travel around SA after their 14 days’ isolation is complete and will not be sent back to Victoria.

“These family members did this in good faith, they were given an exemption inappropriately … there’s no reason to be punishing those family members,” she said.

SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier addresses the media.SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier addresses the media.
Professor Spurrier said there was no risk to the public.(ABC News)

A Port Adelaide Football Club spokesperson said the club had “no involvement in the process of players’ parents seeking exemptions”.

“Those decisions are a matter for SA Health,” the spokesperson said.

Professor Spurrier explained that two committees deal with travel requests — the exemption and appeals committee — and that the staff member responsible would be counselled.

She said she found out about the decision this afternoon.

“I will be stepping back on to the exemption committee because I think it’s important I have that oversight,” she said.

SA Health said the travel exemption process would continue to be refined, but there was no risk to the public.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said he was also disappointed in the exemptions given.

“In some ways that might have been to the detriment of our relationship with the AFL but the health and safety of South Australians is our paramount consideration.

“I can’t believe that this decision was in the bounds of discretion but it’s up to the chief executive to consider all the circumstances and what action might need to be taken.”

Two new coronavirus cases confirmed

Professor Spurrier has also apologised for what she described as SA’s first “serious breach” of hotel quarantine, associated with the state’s first new coronavirus cases for several weeks.

The two new cases of COVID-19 announced today.

A woman and a man tested positive after arriving in Adelaide from overseas on Sunday — but a child who was travelling with them has so far not tested positive.

Professor Spurrier said she was not “too concerned” about the cases in terms of public health, because they had been staying in hotel quarantine.

A medical professional dressed in protective clothing leans through the window of a car to test people inside.A medical professional dressed in protective clothing leans through the window of a car to test people inside.
Two new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in SA.(ABC News: Haidarr Jones)

But a hotel security guard helping test members of the family for COVID-19 was “too close” to where the procedure was being performed, and will now also have to go into quarantine.

The two newly-diagnosed cases of COVID-19 are the only known active cases in South Australia.

The couple are both aged in their twenties and flew through Doha with their young child — but Professor Spurrier did not know from which country.

They bring the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases since the virus was first detected in SA to 468.

More than 2,000 people in SA got tested for the disease yesterday, bringing the total number of tests performed in the state to just over 450,000.