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Victorian show workers sent packing over COVID-19 border breach in Mackay

ABC Health logo ABC Health 8/10/2020 By Ollie Wykeham, Myles Houlbrook-Walk, and Melissa Maddison
Showfest rides setting up at the Mackay showgrounds where last night workers were deported for breaching the border. (ABC Tropical North: Ollie Wykeham) © Provided by ABC Health Showfest rides setting up at the Mackay showgrounds where last night workers were deported for breaching the border. (ABC Tropical North: Ollie Wykeham)

Fourteen Victorian-based show workers have been booted from the Mackay Showgrounds and ordered out of Queensland after entering the state with the wrong border passes.

Police removed the amusement operators from Mackay Showgrounds on Tuesday night after they travelled from Victoria, arriving Monday, and tried to set up rides for the show.

Show organisers called police, who evicted the interlopers from the site and into quarantine at an unidentified location, where they were tested for COVID-19. All returned negative test results, police said, and were heading for the border.

Manager of Mackay's Showfest, Lance Collyer, told the ABC the workers were not part of his operation that also ran a show in Rockhampton.

"They shouldn't have been here. As soon as we found out they were on site, we had the police involved," he said.

"It's very frustrating because we have been working hard to bring this show here, we've all just got to do the right thing.

"Unfortunately some people aren't willing to do the right thing, so we are having to make them do the right thing."

Mr Collyer said the rides they attended were not a part of the show and had not travelled with them.

"We had a few rides that weren't authorised to come on to the showgrounds," he said.

"The police came down and we've been working with the police to escort them off the premises and secure the site."

Health Minister Steven Miles said the workers had been ordered back across the border.

"Police have identified a crew of show support staff who travelled from Victoria to Mackay in order to assist with a show there," he said.

"They were travelling on the wrong border pass and it is now a police matter.

"They have all been tested for COVID and they are negative."

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Dr Miles said police were now investigating the workers who applied for a freight permit, which was not the one needed to transport the rides across the border.

"Police quarantined them while they were tested and now they've asked them to return outside of Queensland," he said.

"What it underlines is that our systems are very effective at identifying when people have travelled inappropriately.

"It's probably the case that if the show had worked with our public health units and within their COVID Safe Plan and demonstrated a need for specialist, essential workers to come from another part of the country, then they could have received an appropriate permit, but in this case it wasn't the appropriate permit and they've been asked to leave Queensland."

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