‘Protocols were followed’

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Cunard's QM2. Queen Mary 2 has room for about 2600 guests.
Camera IconCunard's QM2. Queen Mary 2 has room for about 2600 guests. Credit: Supplied

WA’s Premier has defended a decision not to intervene when the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship docked in Busselton last fortnight, dispersing travellers on daytrips across the region.

A quarter of all WA’s COVID-19 patients have recently travelled on interstate cruise ships, which have emerged as a dangerous chink in the armour of the State’s containment efforts.

Local fears were stoked at the time, with the Times reporting the arrival on March 13.

The Queen Mary 2 started and finished its cruise in New York — now the epicentre for coronavirus in the US.

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But a spokesman for Mark McGowan said the ship docked before Federal self-isolation requirements came into effect.

“It followed the protocols that were in place at the time, with requirements on the ship to declare illness before disembarking passengers,” the spokesman said.

“This is a rapidly evolving environment and the situation has clearly changed since 13 March.

“We are taking decisive action to safeguard our community against any risk from cruise ships arriving in WA.”

With some WA cases linked to a NSW decision allowing 2700 cruise ship passengers to disembark in Sydney, Mr McGowan labelled the move “a complete and utter disaster” on Wednesday.

The Premier was now eyeing a possible call-up of defence forces to deal with four cruise ships seeking help off WA’s coast.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam told the Times she flagged concerns when the Queen Mary 2 was due to dock.

“There were legitimate concerns there,” she said.

The Queen Mary 2 allowed daytrippers to come ashore, with many heading into the Margaret River region.

Aravina Estate owners Steve and Hayley Munro-Tobin told the Times they refused a booking for 300 cruise ship passengers on the day. “We were the ones who actually declined to have the visitors from the cruise ships here,” Mr Munro-Tobin said.

“We had 300 booked, but none of them attended.

“We notified them. It was short notice. It was 36 hours before.

“We were concerned because we had three weddings booked that weekend as well.”

The owners said they took action to protect the region as well as their neighbours if it eventuated some visitors carried COVID-19.

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