Three women at the centre of Queensland’s Covid-19 outbreak have been hit with charges after allegedly providing false information on their Queensland border declarations as they travelled back to Brisbane from Melbourne, via Sydney.
Queensland Police confirmed on Thursday afternoon that a 19-year-old Heritage Park woman, a 21-year-old Acacia Ridge woman and a 21-year-old Algester woman have all been charged with one count each of providing false or misleading documents – Section 364 of the Public Health Act (maximum penalty – 100 penalty units or $13,345) and fraud (dishonestly gain benefit / advantage) – Section 408C(1)(d) of the criminal code (maximum penalty five years’ imprisonment).
Police will allege that all three women travelled to the Victoria and deliberately provided false or misleading information in order to reenter the Sunshine State on July 21, despite travellers arriving from Victoria being subject to strict quarantine rules at that time.
All three women are now said to be cooperating with Queensland Police and officials from Queensland Health. It had previously been reported that one woman was refusing to cooperate or provide information on venues she had frequented whilst sick with Covid-19.
The women are all currently in quarantine and will appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 28. A force spokesperson also confirmed that a criminal investigation is also being undertaken by Task Force Sierra Linnet investigators which is unrelated and not connected to the alleged travel to Victoria.
A force spokesperson said: “The Queensland Police Service is committed to ensuring everyone complies with public health directions and will continue to enforce restrictions at the border.”
Earlier on Thursday it was reported that the women had been charged $4,000 each, which sparked uproar among the public who called for tougher penalties, with Today host Karl Stefanovic calling on police and Queensland officials to “throw the book at them”.
On Wednesday, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young confirmed that the state had two new cases and chastised the two women, who allegedly spent eight days in the community whilst sick, rather than in quarantine, branding their behaviour as “reckless”. A third case relating to these women has since been confirmed, whilst large-scale contact tracing is underway in Brisbane’s south.
“It is very disappointing this has occurred. Two young women returned from Melbourne, which we know is an absolute hot spot with a lot of cases, return from Melbourne on the 21 July via Sydney and now tested positive,” Dr Young said.
“As a result of that, a lot of people are going to be inconvenienced. And I do apologise to those people for what is now going to have to do occur. But we know that if we act really fast now we can stop this spreading further and cause even more inconvenience to a lot of people.”
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