NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has lashed a Victorian man from a virus hot spot who arrived in Sydney by train, saying it should serve as a warning to others.
Authorities intercepted the man, aged in his late 50s, at Central Station on Friday after he arrived on an XPT from Melbourne.
When health authorities on the ground asked the man to produce his licence, it revealed an address located within one of the 10 Victorian hot-spot suburbs currently in lockdown following a new spike in COVID-19 cases.
The man now faces up to $11,000 in fines or six months behind bars after earlier this week the Berejiklian Government announced those crossing the border into NSW from a virus hot spot would be penalised.
Mr Hazzard is believed to have signed a public health order on Wednesday that would give police the power to fine people from Victoria’s virus-riddled areas who had disobeyed orders and entered the state.
media_cameraPassengers arriving from Melbourne have their temperature taken at Sydney’s Central Station. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
“Let this be a message for Victorians from a hot spot, do not come to NSW unless you have a very good reason or have an exemption to come here, particularly for a medical reason, or something else extraordinary,” he told reporters on Friday.
Mr Hazzard said the Melbourne man argued he had not lived at the address listed on his licence for some time but he had visited a storage unit in one of the hot-spot areas.
Currently NSW Health has 70 employees working on tracing in Victoria in order to provide some relief to health authorities in the southern state. The Health Minister said it was their job to “help cut the chain of transmission” by being able to ask the right questions.
Mr Hazzard said the man’s arrival today should act as a warning to Victorians.
“Nobody should be coming to NSW with identification showing you’ve come from that area,” he said.
“We shouldn’t have NSW citizens put in that situation and we shouldn’t have our health staff having to dig into where you’ve come from.”
The man’s accommodation in NSW had also been cancelled likely because the provider realised where the guest was travelling from, Mr Hazzard explained.
media_cameraRail passengers arriving from Melbourne queue at a COVID-19 safety screening area at Central Station. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
“We have now had to provide accommodation for that gentleman in our health hotel, which is at the huge expense of the NSW taxpayer, unless we can find a way to get him or the Victorian Government to pay for it,” he said.
“Don’t come to NSW on a half-baked situation which shows you have a licence coming from a hot spot but then claim you don’t come from there. We’ll assume you did and that’s how you’ll be treated.”
When asked whether the man will be fined or jailed, Mr Hazzard said NSW Police would now review the case and whether the man intended to breach public health orders.
He also urged the Andrews Government to implement a screening process at stations in Victoria for outgoing travellers.
On Thursday NSW health authorities intercepted a female traveller who took a train from Melbourne to Sydney despite showing symptoms of COVID-19.
She had also failed to wait to receive her pending test results. However, she was reportedly on the train prior to the new public health order kicking in.
NSW recorded no new cases of coronavirus today, while Victoria registered 66 new COVID-19 cases.
Originally published as ‘Half-baked’ excuse: hot spot visitor blasted