The Sydney removalists who broke restrictions and took the Delta strain to Melbourne will face the full brunt of the law, with officials promising ‘books will be thrown’.
The men drove from Covid-stricken western Sydney on July 8, stopping off at a series of fast food restaurants and petrol stations before delivering furniture to a home in Melbourne’s north and the Ariel Apartment.
The infected transporters triggered the city’s latest outbreak, leaving residents facing another lockdown and cases spreading through its vulnerable community, leaving the state’s Covid-19 response commander promising ramifications.
‘Books will be thrown when it’s time, when it’s ready to throw them, and I’m exceptionally frustrated at the pace and transparency of information coming from the removalists’ exposure,’ Covid response commander Jeroen Weimar said.
‘That’s been a real matter of concern… it is my concern that we haven’t had this quick and transparent exposure of all the information.’
They face fines of up to $45,000 each for breaking protocol.
The Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong, Melbourne (pictured) is at the centre of a Covid outbreak after the infected Sydney removalists spent several hours there – spreading the virus to at least four people in two households
Residents currently under quarantine at the Ariel Apartment complex are seen on their balcony on Wednesday after being put into a strict lockdown and banned from leaving their homes
‘Books will be thrown when it’s time, when it’s ready to throw them, and I’m exceptionally frustrated at the pace and transparency of information coming from the removalists’ exposure,’ Jeroen Weimar said
Mr Weimar said the removalists, two travelled in two separate trucks, were ‘not being deliberately forthcoming’ which was hindering their investigations into potential sites of exposure.
‘That’s why we’re talking about Kalkallo now – 24 hours after we started talking about the first sites, which is a source of frustration to all of us,’ he said.
The Covid-19 response commander also said they have studied CCTV footage and determined the men at the centre of the outbreak were not wearing masks, further breaking protocol.
‘We’ve got access to as much data as we’re going to get,’ Mr Weimar said.
‘Many operators have various other recording systems on their vehicles … it would appear the vehicles concerned, when we finally got more information from the operator, don’t have those recording systems.’
They face up to $45,000 each in fines, including $11,000 each for not keeping accurate records, $11,000 for providing false/misleading information and a massive $21,000 for refusing to comply with coronavirus directions.
3AW radio host Neil Mitchell said the men deserve the full brunt of potential punishments saying the money ‘doesn’t solve the problem’ when compared to the damage being done.
‘These people have tricked, and lied, and covered up. Potentially that’s endangering lives,’ he said.
‘We still don’t even know what company they work for. It will happen again.’
The removalists held a red-zone permit to enter the state which give non-Victorian residents the opportunity to enter who are specified, transit or freight workers.
‘A red zone means a location in a State, Territory or Green Zone Country assessed as high risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, but only during the specific period for that location detailed on the Victorian Travel Map (below) as amended from time to time with the approval of the Chief Health Officer,’ the Victorian government website says.
‘When applying for a red zone permit, applicants should be aware of any very high-risk exposure sites in jurisdictions they may have travelled to in the 14 days before entering Victoria.’
The removalists were permitted to enter Victoria but broke a number of rules tied to their red-zone permits.
A group of removalists, two infected with coronavirus, have sparked an outbreak in Victoria that leaves the state teetering on the edge of lockdown after visiting several venues and even travelling to South Australia
The Hungry Jack’s in Marulan in NSW (pictured) has been flagged as an exposure site after being visited by the men on their way back to Sydney
The infected removalists stopped at the Mobil service station in Ballan (pictured) during their interstate trip
The removalist crew set off from Covid-ravaged western Sydney on July 8 stopping at a Hungry Jacks and a Caltex service station in Kalkallo before dropping off a load of furniture to a home in Craigieburn on Melbourne’s northern outskirts.
They then travelled to Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s west to the third floor of the Ariele Apartments and picked up a set of furniture bound for Adelaide.
Later that evening on July 8, the removalists left Melbourne and travelled to Ballan, near Ballarat where they visited a Mobil service station and a McDonald’s for food and one had a shower.
The following morning, on July 9, they headed to McLaren Vale in Adelaide, where one of the crew was informed by NSW Health that they were a primary close contact of another positive case back in Sydney.
All three crew members then headed back to Sydney on July 10, but stopped off at a Shell service station in South Australia’s Tailem Bend, and a Hungry Jack’s in Marulan, NSW.
It was later that day one of the crew returned a positive test. Then on July 11, a second crew member was also confirmed to be infected.
Millions of residents in Melbourne are bracing a new wave of Covid restrictions after two infected Sydney removalists transmitted the virus during a trip to Victoria last week (pictured, a woman in Melbourne)
Mr Weimar said the information the trio gave to contact tracers was ‘not as crisp and clear and consistent’ as it should be, with two not believed to speak English.
‘I don’t have a complete accurate track in terms of exactly where they stayed,’ Mr Weimar said.
‘My understanding at this point in time is that they stayed in their cab as part of their protocols.
‘Any other locations they may have stopped at we’re still trying to track down definitively.’
Mr Weimar said the next two days would be critical to stamp out the outbreaks.