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A young New South Wales couple who allegedly fled Melbourne airport after being told they would have to self-quarantine said they were confused about the rules.
Terry and Debbie Elford arrived at Tullamarine airport on New Years Day morning on a flight from Canberra.
Police accused the couple of fleeing from an officer who told them to quarantine and then flee the airport in a van.
Goulburn’s NSW couple apologized Saturday for leaving the airport on Friday without entering mandatory quarantine.
they were confused about the rules.
The Victorian border had been closed to people from the New South Wales coronavirus ‘red zone’ hot spots, but until midnight on New Year’s Day, Victorian residents returning from the rest of New South Wales had the option to self-isolate.
As of January 2, anyone entering Victoria, including returning residents, from anywhere in New South Wales, must enter a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.
The young couple were not Victorians, but said they were caught up in the confusion surrounding the regulatory changes.
They said they had a permit to enter Victoria and since Goulburn was not a hotspot for the coronavirus, they were confused and thought they could isolate themselves.
Mr Elford, 26, apologised in a statement sent to media on Saturday.
‘We had a permit, we lived in a green zone in New South Wales, we were flying in from Canberra airport, which is allowed, and after we got to Tullamarine, DHS officers stopped us and couldn’t tell us whether or not we needed to quarantine ourselves, so after about an hour we left.
The couple apologized and said they were caught in the confusion when the rules changed.
“We are truly sorry for the disaster this has caused,” Elford told news.com.au in a statement.
The couple had gone to a family barbecue and flown to Canberra so Debbie could go to an OB appointment on Tuesday.
Mr Elford said the young couple had told Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) about their plans before travelling.
“We were very surprised when we woke up this morning to this media story, and after that, we proactively contacted our local police in Goulburn to resolve this,” Elford said.
NSW police told Daily Mail Australia that the couple had surrendered to the Goulburn police station, in the NSW regional region, at 10am on Saturday.
The couple said they had been tested for coronavirus “ proactively ” and were self-isolating.
Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia on Saturday that the couple would be indicted.
“Victoria Police and DHHS will jointly investigate all circumstances surrounding the incident and enforcement action will be taken,” said a police spokesman.
‘This is a very serious matter.’
The couple arrived just before Victoria introduced the closure of its strict border in New South Wales at 11:59 p.m. on New Years Day, forcing returning Victorians to spend 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine.
Before that, the DHHS had announced on its website that the borders were closed after December 31 to anyone in the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Greater Sydney, Northern Beaches, or the central coast of NSW.
However, ‘Green Zone’ permits had been issued for areas outside of these red zones, and people traveling for medical reasons had exemptions available.
However, the rules were changing quickly and were confusing as people from all over New South Wales could not enter after January 1, unless they had an exemption or were returning Victorian residents.