The State Government will block anybody from disembarking cruise ships in New South Wales until new border protections are in place.
- NSW strengthened its rules for cruise ships after being criticised over Ruby Princess passengers disembarking in Sydney
- The Federal Government last week restricted all cruise ships from entering Australia
- About a dozen cruise ships waiting to dock are now in limbo
The move will leave thousands of people who have been trying to get back to port stranded.
The Federal Government last week restricted all cruise ships from entering Australia for 30 days.
The ABC understands there are close to a dozen cruise ships wanting to dock because they were at sea when the restriction was put in place.
But they are now in limbo.
“No-one will be allowed to leave any of these cruise ships until we have settled on the agreed new measures,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
The State and Federal Government are working on new guidelines, but what they will include and when they will be decided upon is unclear.
“Today I have personally spoken to the Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram and Minister Peter Dutton and we agree we stand shoulder to shoulder on protecting our citizens,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The move came after a war of words broke out between federal and state authorities over who was to blame for allowing 2,700 passengers to disembark from the Ruby Princess cruise ship last week.
More than 130 passengers from the vessel have tested positive for coronavirus, including a 77-year-old woman who died earlier this week.
When the ship docked in Sydney 13 people were suffering from respiratory problems and were tested, but passengers were allowed to leave before the results came back.
Earlier on Wednesday Ms Berejiklian said “all of us have to take responsibility” for the Ruby Princess being allowed to dock.
The Australian Border Force (ABF) said it was NSW Health that allowed the passengers to disembark.
“The Department of Agriculture officials advised my officers that New South Wales Health had conducted a risk assessment, had rated the risk as low and that health officials would not be attending the vessel,” Mr Outram said.
“As a result of that information, all of the passengers were given a green light to disembark.”
But NSW Health has defended itself, saying it followed national protocols and even exceeded them.
The state has already strengthened its rules for cruise ships after being criticised for its handling of the Ruby Princess.
What the experts are saying about coronavirus:
If there is any suspicion of coronavirus, tests must be carried out and results returned before passengers can disembark.
A report will be released in the coming days on the decisions the Berejiklian Government made about the Ruby Princess.