Pair who allegedly fled Melbourne Airport after Canberra flight apologise over 'confusion'

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said a man and woman who allegedly fled authorities at Melbourne Airport would be fined at least $19,000 each after breaching health orders. Picture: Getty Images
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said a man and woman who allegedly fled authorities at Melbourne Airport would be fined at least $19,000 each after breaching health orders. Picture: Getty Images

A man and woman who allegedly fled authorities at Melbourne Airport on New Year's Day after arriving on a flight from Canberra will face at least $38,000 in fines.

But the pair have reportedly apologised for their actions, saying they had been caught up in the confusion over travel and border restrictions.

"Like hundreds of others on January, 1, 2021, we got caught up with the confusion when the rules about entering Victoria changed," Terry and Debbie Elford said in a statement provided to Nine.

"We had a permit, live in a green zone in NSW, were flying from Canberra airport, which is allowed, and after we arrived in Tullamarine, we were stopped by [DHHS] officers who were not able to tell us whether or not we needed to quarantine, so after about an hour or so we walked away."

The pair said they went to a family barbecue outdoors in Victoria before flying back to Canberra later that afternoon.

"This was all in line with the plans we had outlined to [DHHS] officers," they said.

"We were really shocked when we woke this morning to this media story, and following that have proactively contacted our local police in Goulburn to sort this out.

"We also have proactively gone to get a COVID-19 test this morning, and will be self-isolating."

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said earlier the pair had returned to Goulburn in NSW after breaching current health orders when he addressed the "very serious matter" in Melbourne on January 2.

The 26-year-old man and 24-year-old woman, who are NSW residents, arrived in Victoria on a flight from Canberra just before 11am on January 1, Mr Foley said.

"Upon the advice of the public health team, those people have breached numerous orders of the Public Health State of Emergency in Victoria and will each be fined at least $19,000 for their breaching of those arrangements," Mr Foley said. "This is a very serious matter."

Mr Foley said the link between NSW's cluster and the outbreak in Victoria had been established and "tough measures" were required to get on top of it.

"The virus does not respect state borders, the virus does not respect holiday periods and the virus does not respect many things. And we need to make sure that we stay ahead of this cluster and we take all the necessary measures we can to make sure that we bring it under control as soon as possible," Mr Foley said.

It followed news from Victoria Police, which issued a statement to say the pair had been located in NSW during the morning of January 2 following their alleged absconding from airport authorities.

"Victoria Police and DHHS will jointly investigate all circumstances surrounding the incident and enforcement actions will be taken," the statement read.

Victoria Police previously said authorised officers had approached the pair at the airport to tell them they would be required to quarantine for 14 days as per the current directions from the Chief Health Officer.

It is alleged the pair then ran from the officers, fled the airport and was picked up by a van outside before being located in Goulburn, northeast of Canberra, the next day.

with Jasper Lindell

This story Pair who allegedly fled Melbourne Airport after Canberra flight apologise over 'confusion' first appeared on The Canberra Times.