Legal challenge to Australian Open quarantine plan

MELBOURNE • Apartment owners on the premises of a luxury Melbourne hotel are seeking to quash plans by Australian Open organisers to use the hotel to quarantine players ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.

The apartment owners at the Westin Melbourne are concerned for their health and never agreed to international players quarantining at the hotel, their lawyer Graeme Efron told Reuters yesterday.

"My instructions are to get an injunction. So at this stage, that's where we're going," he said.

Players are expected to arrive in the middle of this month and undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine as part of Covid-19 protocols before the Feb 8-21 event.

Efron said the Westin had informed the owners on Christmas Eve about the quarantine plans for the postponed tournament and presented it as a "done deal".

"No one has told us that this has been mandated by a government authority to turn a partly residential city hotel into a quarantine hotel," he said.

Owners, who include top business people, added they felt "ambushed" by the quarantine plan.

"At 84, I'm in the vulnerable group and it's shocking the way they tried to ram this through without any attempt to consult with us," one of the owners, Digby Lewis, told Fairfax media.

However, Westin management claimed their "Covid-safe" plan had been shared with the owners corporation, adding that residents would use a separate entrance and lifts, and have no contact with players and quarantine staff.

"Their floor will remain exclusive while there will be no reticulation of ventilation between the floors," it said in a statement.

Tennis Australia did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, recorded three new cases yesterday, as authorities scrambled to trace close contacts from an outbreak that began last month in Sydney's Northern Beaches area.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2021, with the headline 'Legal challenge to Australian Open quarantine plan'. Print Edition | Subscribe