Four men in Australia have been fined after hiring a superyacht for $18,000 AUD ($13,483 USD) per day and sailing from Sydney, currently a locked down COVID hotspot, into the neighbouring state of Queensland – all to watch a rugby match.
The men, who berthed the 34-metre superyacht at the Gold Coast on July 7 before travelling to Brisbane to watch the Australia versus France rugby test, were tracked down by authorities several days later and each fined $4,000 AUD ($2,995 USD) for providing false and misleading information on their border declaration passes. The Greater Sydney area has been designated a COVID-19 hotspot from June 21 onwards, meaning anyone from the area is forbidden from crossing the New South Wales-Queensland border.
“Thankfully they all tested negative to COVID-19 which is a great relief considering they had attended the Wallabies versus France rugby international in Brisbane last week,” said Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) general manager Angus Mitchell in a statement. “As of 1 July 2021, anyone who provides false or misleading information or breaches the directions can expect an on-the-spot fine of more than $4,000 ($2,997 USD), a court-imposed penalty of up to $13,785 ($10,327 USD) or six months’ imprisonment.”
Online, many expressed their frustration over the “entitled” offenders – one of whom was identified by the media as the executive chairman of Australian Securities Exchange-listed technology company Atomos Limited.
The men have since been placed into hotel quarantine. But they aren’t the only ones to have made the prohibited sea journey from Sydney – which is currently battling its largest ever COVID outbreak – to the Gold Coast. MSQ also identified two other sailing vessels crossing the maritime border between New South Wales and Queensland last week.
“A 68-year-old skipper was placed in government hotel quarantine and issued with a $4,003 ($2,999 USD) fine for failing to comply with a COVID-19 border direction while another skipper was fined $4,003 and turned around at the border,” said Mitchell. “The message is clear, if you have been in a COVID-19 hotspot and you cross our maritime border, you will be intercepted and face the consequences.”
The four men aboard the superyacht had all come from Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The only good news for the men? The Wallabies, the Australian national rugby team, defeated France 23 points to 21.
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