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Border Force approves NRL’s New Zealand Warriors’ exemption from coronavirus restrictions to travel to Australia


Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed the Australian Border Force (ABF) has granted the New Zealand Warriors NRL team permission to come to Australia.

“This morning the [Australian Border Force] Commissioner exempted the 36 foreign nationals from travel restrictions, enabling them to travel to Australia,” Mr Dutton said in a statement.

“Separate permissions have been provided to enable a chartered aircraft to land at Tamworth Airport on 3 May 2020.”

Mr Dutton said the ABF Commissioner had carefully considered the request to allow the team to come to Australia, including advice from Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy that the players and staff travelling from New Zealand “do not pose a risk of serious harm to public health in Australia”.

“The National Rugby League have been advised to liaise with NSW Health and NSW Police to ensure all necessary state health and quarantine requirements are met.”

There has been uncertainty over the part the Warriors would play in a restarted season, given the Federal Government’s decision last month to ban foreign travellers from entering Australia in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision comes after the NRL announced on Friday the Warriors had been granted permission to fly to Australia by National Cabinet, prompting a clarification from the Prime Minister.

Speaking after the National Cabinet meeting, Scott Morrison said the decision to allow the New Zealand Warriors into Australia was up to the states and the ABF, not National Cabinet.

“The National Cabinet has not provided that endorsement and nor is it for the National Cabinet to do that,” he said.

“The individual jurisdictions will ultimately provide any of the clearances that are necessary on a health basis to deal with any of the major codes.”

On Saturday, the NRL welcomed the decision.

“This is an excellent outcome for rugby league and another step towards the competition resuming on May 28,” ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said in a statement.

“I want to thank the federal and state governments, in particular Border Force and NSW State Emergency Operation Centre for their assistance in making the Warriors’ arrival a reality.

“The club will follow the strictest biosecurity protocols and, like all clubs, will participate in an education day about the protocols on Monday morning.”

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Warriors chief executive Cameron George thanked authorities and said the team was happy to be able to focus on getting ready to play.

“We’ve been front and centre of a lot of speculation and a lot of challenges, however to get that notification just 24 hours before we depart, it was a big relief for our players and our club,” George said.

“And it’s really good for our guys so we can focus on the job at hand.

“We’re very appreciative of the leadership of the NRL, very grateful and respectful of the decision of the Federal Government of Australia and also the State Government as well.

“[We are] very mindful that it is very challenging times but respectful of the process that they had to follow.”

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