“The process broke down,” he said. “NSW Health should have been there, they weren’t; we should have held the plane, we didn’t.”
“We have to now work with other stakeholders to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
NSW Labor acting opposition leader Yasmin Catley on Thursday compared the Jetstar mishap to the Ruby Princess fiasco, which was the source of hundreds of cases and more than 20 deaths after 2700 passengers disembarked the cruise ship in Sydney despite several people on board awaiting COVID-19 test results.
But Mr Evans said it was a “completely different set of circumstances” to the Ruby Princess because all passengers had undergone a temperature check, completed a health questionnaire, and an identity check before boarding the plane in Melbourne.
“It’s the same screening process – what was happening in Sydney was a double check,” he said.
Mr Evans said screening processes had been changing over the course of two or three days and called for uniform protocols to be put in place across all states and territories.
Under revised protocols developed with airlines and NSW Health, planes arriving at Sydney Airport from Victoria will now wait on the runway until it is confirmed that health officers are at the arrival gate ready to screen passengers.
NSW closed its border to Victoria on Tuesday night and blocked entry to anyone from Melbourne on Monday following a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases, leading to the city returning to stage three lockdown restrictions.
The Transport Workers Union, which represents some Jetstar cabin crew and ground staff, said the mishap showed airlines could not manage the health risks of the pandemic themselves and called on the federal government to put a set of national rules in place.