Victorian health authorities are imploring released travellers from a COVID-hit Brisbane quarantine hotel to self-isolate and get tested.
Late on Wednesday, Victoria’s health department told anyone in Victoria who has completed mandatory hotel quarantine at Brisbane’s Grand Chancellor hotel since December 30 to get tested and quarantine at home until they receive a negative result.
They should contact its coronavirus hotline immediately.
The health alert came as the Brisbane hotel was shut for deep cleaning after six people – four quarantining guests, a cleaner and her partner – contracted the highly contagious UK coronavirus strain.
Travel from the “red zones” of Greater Brisbane and Greater Sydney remains banned, with the state government defending its tough border restrictions.
While the state has reopened its border to regional NSW, thousands of Victorians have been stranded in Greater Sydney for almost two weeks.
Under the “traffic light” system, anyone coming into Victoria from interstate must apply for a permit, with those entering from “orange” zones such as regional NSW required to be tested within 72 hours of their return.
Only those who receive an exemption from the health department can enter from a “red” zone.
Almost 83,000 people have been issued permits since the system launched on Monday, some three hours later than planned due to a technical issue.
Government ministers Luke Donnellan and Martin Pakula defended the system at separate press conferences on Wednesday.
Mr Donnellan said the border restrictions were based on public health advice and took into consideration the number of active cases in a state as well as mystery cases.
“What may appear to be brutal and uncaring and the like is very much done with the interests of the Victorian public at heart to ensure we don’t have another situation where we have to lock down,” Mr Donnellan said.
“The idea of just saying let everything rip and then we’ll just deal with the consequences again, I don’t think the Victorian public wants (that).”
He said there was “no way known” the government would change its approach to managing the virus because people were “getting grumpy”.
Mr Pakula, meanwhile, said Victorians interstate and overseas will be able to return home “bit-by-bit”.
He defended the decision to allow 1200 tennis players and their support staff to enter the state from Thursday, ahead of the Australian Open starting on February 8.
All will be required to quarantine at one of three hotels for two weeks, although each player and one support person will be permitted to leave their rooms for training and treatment.
They will be tested daily for COVID-19.
“We have a responsibility to bring people home – and we are – and we also have a responsibility to protect our incredible major events calendar and to protect the state economy,” Mr Pakula told reporters.
“It’s not all one and not the other.”
But the Australian Formula One Grand Prix will not go ahead as planned in March.
Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief Andrew Westacott said it logistically wasn’t possible for about 1200-1600 drivers and staff to serve the required two-week quarantine period.
It will instead be held in November, two weeks after the running of the Melbourne Cup.
Mr Pakula said an announcement on a return to offices would be made by Friday.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Martin Foley joined Creative Industries Minister Danny Pearson at St Kilda’s Espy Hotel to announce funding for the venue as well as almost $8 million in grants for the music industry.
Victoria recorded a full week without a local or interstate-acquired coronavirus case on Wednesday, with three new infections detected in hotel quarantine.