(Natural News) An elderly couple in Australia is claiming they are being treated like criminals after they were fined thousands of dollars and forced to drive nearly 300 miles to get checked in at a city quarantine hotel.
Robyn Anderson, 67, and her husband Robert Legg, 60, wanted to start their lives anew in Roma, a rural town in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland. They moved there from Melton, a suburb of Melbourne in the southeastern state of Victoria.
The couple claims they were given the green light to relocate. They filled out every required form, including the entry forms to enter the state of Queensland. They arrived in the state just one day before Queensland declared that Victoria was a COVID-19 hotspot. If they arrived in the state after this announcement, they would have been turned away. But because they made it to their new home in time, they were allowed to stay, provided they do a 14-day quarantine in their new home. (Related: Australian man escapes forced quarantine in hotel using rope made from bedsheets.)
Couple go through horrifying ordeal to be quarantined
Four days into their quarantine, the Queensland Police Service (QPS) informed Anderson and Legg that they had breached a health order. The couple supposedly filled out one of their entry forms incorrectly. The QPS officers ordered the couple to get tested for COVID-19 at Roma Hospital and then drive 470 kilometers (292 miles) east to a quarantine hotel in Chermside, a suburb of the state capital of Brisbane. They were to turn themselves in to authorities at this hotel and spend two weeks quarantining.
The couple was fined A$4,003 ($2,959) each for allegedly breaching state entry requirements by filling out the entry forms incorrectly.
“If I filled the card out incorrectly, show me where I’ve made the mistake, don’t treat me like a criminal,” said Anderson to the police officers. “I’ve got nothing to hide.”
After their COVID-19 test, the couple was escorted from town despite pleading with QPS officers that their car would not make it all the way to Brisbane. Their car broke down near the city of Toowoomba, 351 kilometers (218 miles) from Roma. QPS officers denied them motor support and ordered them to take a taxi to Chermside.
Anderson and Legg were stuck on the side of the road for more than three hours after the couple initially called for help. They were only provided with a tow truck for their car and a taxi to pick them up after the intervention of an Australian news outlet. After arriving at the quarantine hotel in Chermside, the couple was told by Queensland Health that they had tested negative for COVID-19 and the order to quarantine them has been revoked.
But when the couple tried to leave the hotel, they were stopped by QPS officers and ordered back into the hotel, where they currently remain as of press time.
“We believe we did everything right but we got slapped with $4,000 fines for breaching border orders,” said Anderson. “We’re now stuck in hotel quarantine and our car is in a holding yard somewhere.”
Anderson said the ordeal has greatly affected their mental health. Now, their thoughts are about how this entire experience will affect them financially. “All our savings are gone and we’ve got rent due on both the Roma and Victorian houses,” she said.
With the two fines, hotel quarantine costs, car towing and holding costs, Anderson and Legg are expected to spend over A$14,000 ($10,354) out of pocket.
“It’s like you’re a criminal and you’re locked up somewhere, and you can’t get out,” said Anderson. “I just don’t know why they want to treat people the way they are at the moment.”
Queensland authorities defend draconian protocol
QPS Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said he was satisfied that the police acted appropriately in Anderson and Legg’s case.
“The investigations of the police disclosed that they had initially denied coming out of a hotspot but had, in fact, come out of the hotspot, which was a breach,” he said.
“They have been issued with a penalty infringement notice for that and the evidence exists that that’s what was required.”
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young said she was “very comfortable” with the process Anderson and Legg went through.
“We don’t need test results,” said Young, admitting that COVID-19 tests are unreliable. “Test results are too late – please, no one out there relies on test results.”
“It’s our job to get test results. Until anyone gets a test result, they need to isolate themselves,” she added. “They can do that in a car, on a drive, of course they can, if that’s what they’ve been directed to do.”
Learn more about the state of the lockdown in Australia and other countries around the world by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.