Australian Open Quarantine Plan Facing Legal Challenge: Report

Australian Open
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – February 2, 2020. General view during Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Austria’s Dominic Thiem match. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

MELBOURNE — Apartment owners on the premises of a luxury Melbourne hotel are threatening legal action against plans by Australian Open organizers to use the hotel to quarantine players ahead of the Grand Slam, local media reported on Monday.

The apartment owners at the Westin Melbourne said they had concerns for their health and never agreed to international players quarantining at the Westin, accusing the hotel’s management of “ambushing” them with the plan.

“It’s incredibly arrogant to ambush us this way as if it’s a done deal. There are substantive public health and legal issues that have not even been examined,” Mark Nicholson, a long-time apartment owner at the Westin, told Fairfax Media.

Hundreds of players are expected to arrive in Melbourne in mid-January and undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine as part of COVID-19 protocols before the Feb. 8-21 Australian Open.

“At 84, I’m in the vulnerable group and it’s shocking the way they tried to ram this through without any attempt to consult with us,” owner Digby Lewis told Fairfax.

“I’m more than happy to toss in $10,000 or $20,000 to help the legal fight, it’s bloody shocking.”

Westin management said their “COVID safe” plan had been shared with the owners corporation, adding that existing residents would have no contact or staff or guests and would use a separate entrance and lifts. 

“Their floor will remain exclusive while there will be no reticulation of ventilation between the floors,” the Westin said in a statement on Monday

Tennis Australia did not provide immediate comment when contacted by Reuters on Monday.

Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, was the epicentre of Australia’s largest second wave outbreak of COVID-19, which started at two quarantine hotels for international arrivals.

More than 18,000 infections were recorded in Victoria during the outbreak and nearly 800 deaths.

Victoria recorded three new cases on Monday, as authorities scrambled to trace close contacts from an outbreak that began in mid-December in Sydney’s Northern Beaches area. 

Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Edwina Gibbs; Reuters

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