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Wronged travellers seek compo after border bungle

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At least ten travellers who were wrongly told they had to quarantine or return to New South Wales after a South Australian border bungle are seeking compensation, but health authorities “certainly expect more” claims.

 

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It comes as 30 families who were incorrectly turned away at border checkpoints on Sunday have now been allowed into the state.

Authorities have said about 100 people decided to return to NSW on Sunday – despite arriving at road border checkpoints before a midnight deadline for new restrictions – because they were given the wrong information after a breakdown in official communications.

Another 550 people were forced into 14 days of quarantine.

The chaos and confusion forced a series of apologies from the Police Commissioner, Health Minister and chief public health officer, after the deputy chief public health was still providing the same misinformation on morning radio yesterday.

Health Minister Stephen Wade this morning told reporters “SA Health (had) received contact from 10 people in relation to compensation but we certainly expect more”.

“The government’s made it clear that we will consider requests from compensation on a case by case basis,” he said.

The Opposition is demanding the government provide details on the compensation available, but Wade refused to elaborate.

He said people seeking compensation should lodge requests through SA Health’s exemption email address.

“There are so many variables in relation to compensation. We are going to be considering these cases on a case by case basis,” he said.

“We all regret what’s happened. We all apologise for what’s happened. What we are focused on doing now is to facilitate Christmas where we can for those families where we can.”

Stevens this morning told reporters that 30 families of the 100 travellers who were wrongly turned away at border checkpoints on Sunday had now been allowed into the state.

“Thirty families re-presented at our borders yesterday and based on our assessment at the borders we allowed those people to enter SA as exemptions because of the circumstances,” he said.

“They’d only been in regional NSW or Victoria so we saw that there was no risk to SA by allowing those people to come through, so these (are) people who were inconvenienced by the communications issues on the previous day.”

He said of the 550 people ordered into quarantine, police had contacted 375 – with 350 released and 25 told to stay in quarantine because they’d been in Sydney’s northern beaches area, which is at the centre of that state’s cluster.

“There are another 175 people that we are still trying to catch up with and we are hopeful we will have that done by mid to late morning today,” he said.

“Some people haven’t answered their phones at this stage so the team are just re-trying. We’re hopeful we’ll have them all done by the end of the morning.”

Authorities introduced a series of restrictions that were supposed to only come into effect at midnight on Sunday.

Anyone from Sydney’s northern beaches is now banned from entering SA.

People from Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong local government areas are allowed into South Australia but they must quarantine for 14 days. They must also get tested on days one, five and 12 of their arrival.

People from regional NSW don’t have to quarantine but they need to get tested.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told reporters this morning SA had recorded no new cases today, despite more than 4000 tests conducted yesterday.

She was pleased to hear that Sydney’s cluster had only grown by eight cases today.

She urged anyone with symptoms to get tested and to stay away from Christmas functions if sick.

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