Coronavirus Australia: Billionaire Kerry Stokes excused from hotel quarantine after Aspen trip
Billionaire Kerry Stokes and his wife have skipped hotel quarantine on medical grounds after returning home from overseas to Australia by private jet.The couple flew home from the COVID-19 hotspot Colorado on April 8, after transiting through Hawaii.
The media mogul, 79, had previously been self-isolating at his $15 million Beaver Creek compound, which is close to the Aspen ski fields.
The playground for the rich and famous remains the subject of a statewide stay-at-home order after 10,447 people tested positive and 486 people died.
After returning to Australia, Mr Stokes and his wife then spent the past 14 days holed up at their Perth mansion, as questions were raised over why they were not forced into mandatory quarantine at a Perth hotel.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the mandatory quarantine rules on March 26, more than a week before Mr Stokes flew into Australia.
A spokesman said the media mogul had legally applied for the exemption as had thousands of other Australians. He had recently undergone an undisclosed medical procedure. The crew of his private jet had also self-isolated at home and not at a hotel.
“The exemption also applied to Mr Stokes’ wife who accompanied him and they have been in isolation for two weeks at their home in Perth,” the spokesperson said.
“Many thousands of Australians have also received exemptions over the last month.”
Not so lucky was a Perth tradie who recently snuck out of hotel quarantine to visit his girlfriend and became the first Australian to be jailed for the offence.
Jonathan David, 35, pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrates Court to two counts of failing to comply with a direction after he left the Travelodge Hotel.
He copped a six-month jail term but the majority was suspended leaving Mr David free to catch up with his girlfriend without being detained.
Hundreds of overseas travellers, including pregnant women and young children, have been kept locked up in hotels across the country with some complaining of poor food, no fresh air.
WA Police confirmed today the Stokes family was granted the special exemption from being forced to spend 14 days at a budget Perth hotel, but refused to disclose the reasons for the exemption, citing privacy concerns.
The special exemption for the billionaire follows WA Premier Mark McGowan stressing there were “no exemptions” to the rule.
“There will be no exemptions on this,” he said. “Any West Australians who are also still overseas and want to come back, they will not be allowed to go home – they will need to stay in self-isolation at Rottnest or a hotel.
“Any other Australians coming home from overseas into WA will also be self-isolated in a hotel or at Rottnest.”
Nine Australians in Aspen have previously tested positive for the virus and been placed in quarantine in their hotels. But in early March it was revealed several Australians had refused to be tested.
A cluster of cases in Victoria was later linked to Australians returning from Colorado with the virus spreading at a 21st birthday party in Melbourne.
In a statement, a spokesman for WA Police Minister Michelle Roberts said she would not comment on individual cases.
“WA Police manage the exemption process and the State Health Incident Coordination Centre also advises that all exemption requirements were complied with in this particular case and it is consistent with other exemptions that have needed to be issued,” he said.