Halfback George Williams looks set to miss the first chunk of Raiders preseason training this year as his enforced Victorian quarantine in a stuffy Melbourne hotel room threatens to drag into a fourth day.
The ACT Government has confirmed it is negotiating an early release of roughly 20 Canberrans who flew to Melbourne on January 3, only to be told they must immediately quarantine for a fortnight as part of new border restrictions between Victoria and NSW.
Victoria's border with NSW slammed shut just before midnight on New Year's Eve. Unbeknownst to Williams, his girlfriend Charlotte and a group of other traveling ACT residents, that meant anyone who had visited NSW in the final two weeks of 2020 would be subject to two weeks of quarantine upon arriving in Melbourne.
Williams and his partner visited Batemans Bay between December 28-30, and the Englishman said they were told by Canberra airport staff on January 3 that flying to Melbourne would not require a mandatory quarantine.
Canberra Raiders players are due back at training on January 7. Should Williams be made to endure a full fortnight of isolation in Melbourne, he will miss at least 10 days of preseason.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said on Tuesday that he had engaged in dialogue with Victoria's Department of Health and Human Resources to discuss early release possibilities for the stranded Canberrans, but was yet to make a breakthrough.
"We have raised this with the Victorian authorities, they have as I understand about two and a half thousand Victorians that they're seeking to process to be able to come back into their home state so they're clearly going to take priority," Mr Barr said.
"We're on the case, we'll endeavour to get an outcome, I can't guarantee it. Probably the best-case scenario is that they have a negative COVID test and they can be put on a flight directly back to Canberra.
"We have a couple of examples of people who have caught a flight from Canberra into Melbourne. They've either been to Queanbeyan or down the south coast in what was previously a NSW green zone according to the Victorian government.
"The situation has changed either mid flight or within a couple of hours of their departure that they've not been aware of and they now find themselves in quarantine in Victoria.
"It's not just about a footballer, it's about all of the people who are in that situation."
Williams told the Canberra Times he was one of several ACT residents who had applied for an exemption to leave quarantine, but was yet to receive a response.
"We're all waiting, it's not just me mate, there's another 20 people who I feel sorry for too, people who have got families," Williams said.
"It's not on, we just need some answers why we're actually in, nobody at the airport were really interested in our stories. They wouldn't let us fly back to Canberra it was literally you come with us and you're stuck in here."
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Williams said the only window in his hotel room had no access to fresh air, and that he would try and procure an exercise bike for exercise should he be required to quarantine for a full two weeks.
"I've spoken to them [the Raiders], they've all been really good, obviously it's a weird situation," Williams said.
"They can't really do too much it's just all down to the government at the moment. We're just trying to take it step by step.
"If worse comes to worse I'll have to get some exercise bike or a treadmill, I need something I can't just be sat in here and be expected to go training after that."
A DHHS spokesperson said: "The Victorian border closed at 11.59pm on January 1 to anyone who had been in NSW in the 14 days prior.
"Travellers entering Victoria after that time are required to enter mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days.
"Not everyone will be eligible for this exemption - border closures, quarantine and isolation requirements are based on public health advice and are designed to protect the Victorian community."