Vic won’t budge on Open player lockdown

A fourth Australian Open arrival has tested positive for coronavirus, as Victoria’s quarantine boss refuses to “water down” hard lockdown directions for players deemed close contacts.

COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria commissioner Emma Cassar on Sunday confirmed a broadcast team member on a flight that landed from Los Angeles on Friday has returned a positive test.

It means four people from the 1200-strong international tennis contingent have tested positive, with the Victorian government continuing to defend its decision to push ahead with the grand slam tournament.

The positive tests have forced 125 close contacts aboard the planes from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi into hard lockdown for the next two weeks, including 47 players.

They were originally given an exemption to leave their quarantine hotel to train for up to five hours a day if they returned a negative test.

But the positive tests mean they are considered close contacts and confined to their rooms unable to practice.

“It’s far from ideal, but COVID is far from ideal,” Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told reporters on Sunday.

“It’s about being COVID-safe and it’s about taking these steps … so that we can actually see the Australian Open happen.”

Romania’s Sorana Cirstea and France’s Alize Cornet have both suggested they were previously told only those within the same section of the positive case would go into lockdown, not the entire flight.

Ms Cassar said Victorian authorities had not been liaising directly with players, but made the rules clear to Tennis Australia.

“Those rules haven’t changed,” she said.

Despite some of the affected players complaining of unequal practice time, Ms Cassar insists the decision won’t be reversed.

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“The program is set up to keep people safe,” she said.

“We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances.”

Open players, staff and officials were sternly warned they could be moved to a more secure hotel as two guests were scolded for breaches.

A player opened his door to try to have a conversation with a training partner down the hallway, while a non-player shouted Uber Eats to others on the floor and opened the door to “praise his great efforts”.

Ms Cassar said the pair had been formally warned and she is considering transferring persistent breachers to a medi-hotel where they’ll have a police officer stationed outside their room.

“It is really low-level, but really dangerous acts which we can’t tolerate,” she said.

The Australian Open broadcast team member’s case was among seven new overseas acquired infections reported in Victoria on Sunday.

All test results from the international tennis cohort were expected to be returned by 3.30pm and will feature in Monday’s figures.

From just over 11,000 tests results received in the 24 hours to Sunday, Victoria recorded its 11th consecutive day without a locally acquired case.

It comes as Greater Brisbane’s travel risk rating was downgraded from “red” to “orange” on Saturday evening, allowing stranded Victorians to cross the border with a permit.

There were 20,435 permits issued in the 24 hours to 8am on Sunday as part of the state’s “traffic light” system, with the health department reporting an immediate spike in applications after the downgrade.

Those stuck in Sydney have been given hope they will soon be able to return home as well, with Premier Daniel Andrews flagging on Saturday that he was preparing to dramatically reduce the red zone in NSW.

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But no announcement was forthcoming on Sunday, as NSW reported six new locally acquired cases.

It comes as private workplaces prepare to return to 50 per cent capacity from Monday, while public service offices are able to ramp up to 25 per cent.

Mask rules will also ease to pre-Christmas levels, making them only mandatory in some settings.

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    About Lokesh Jaral 89077 Articles
    Being an enthusiast who likes to spend time binge-watching TV shows and movies and following the hype in the media and entertainment world. Exploring the field of technology and entertainment, I am here to share the varied experiences on this blog.

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