Morrison open to regional quarantine camps

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is open to Queensland’s push to make all international arrivals quarantine at remote mining camps instead of hotels.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will use Friday’s national cabinet meeting of federal and state leaders to propose the shift in response to new strains of coronavirus.

While key state governments have signalled opposition to the plan, Mr Morrison indicated he would consider supporting it.

“I haven’t seen that proposal as yet, but I’ve always been very interested in positive proposals that have come forward from premiers about how we can best manage what are very challenging issues,” he said on Tuesday.

The prime minister noted similar arrangements were in place at the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs camp which the federal government helps run.

The facility near Darwin will shoulder much of the quarantine workload created by an extra 20 flights to bring stranded Australians home.

There were no cases of local coronavirus transmission in Australia on Tuesday, the fourth day in the past five that has been the case.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly contrasted 300,000 new infections and 50,000 deaths in the same period globally.

“We are in such an envious position at the moment compared with the rest of the world,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Victoria recorded four new coronavirus cases in hotel quarantine, with three believed to be linked to the Australian Open tennis tournament.

More than 70 players have been forced into hard lockdown in hotels, meaning they will not be able to train for two weeks.

Mr Morrison said the quarantine arrangements for people coming in for the tennis were fair, after complaints from players.

“Just as you have to abide by the rules of the umpire on the court, you’ve got to abide by the rules of the health officers when it comes to COVID,” he said.

“You can’t call foul on that.”

Labor leader Anthony Albanese lashed out at tennis stars complaining about previously agreed upon quarantine conditions.

“They should just harden up, frankly, these precious tennis players,” he told 5AA radio.

“They get paid a hell of a lot of money for just turning up.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging more people to get tested with the current rate below authorities’ target to confidently lift restrictions.

Restrictions are on track to ease in Brisbane on Friday after another day without local transmission.

Victoria has reopened to 16 local government areas in Sydney, while the ACT will drop quarantine requirements for people who have travelled to the northern beaches.

Sydney-based federal MPs in areas still under travel restrictions will also be able to apply for an exemption to enter Canberra for parliament.

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