Inside NRL Families’ Hotel Quarantine Nightmare

Inside NRL families’ hotel quarantine nightmare

The Queensland Government has tightened the screws even further on NRL players’ partners and children locked inside hotel quarantine, leaving some wondering whether they will last the 14-day lockdown.

Fatima Kdouh, Adam Mobbs and Nick Campton

5 min read

July 22, 2021 - 9:54AM

News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom

Families of NRL players have been given permission to enter Queensland, allowing Sydney-based families to travel to the Gold Coast where they will…

The NRL’s family hub quarantine was thrown into “chaos” in the first 24 hours after the Queensland government placed even tougher restrictions on families.

Up until Wednesday night, the 500 family members of players, who left Sydney yesterday for a 14-day quarantine on the Gold Coast, were told they would be able to have three meals a day in the dining room and to go for a walk as a family unit on the hotel grounds.

But mothers woke to the news that restrictions had been tightened yet again changed and they along with their children would be confined to their floors.

Three meals a day will now be delivered directly to each floor of the hotel.

A source inside the hotel told The Daily Telegraph: “I’m not sure some of the players’ partners are going to be able to last”. There are fears some mothers, who are here with newborns and up to four children, could be forced back to Sydney.

The families of NRL players flew to Queensland on Tuesday. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

The families of NRL players flew to Queensland on Tuesday. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

It’s believed families were forced to go without the basics in the first 24 hours including water and milk.

One young mother was left without baby formula after her supply ended up on a different floor to her allotted room, meaning she was not able to access it.

Mothers are also having trouble accessing foods according to the dietary requirements of the children. Initially, families were able to choose what they ate in one of the allotted meal rooms but the tightening of restrictions has forced the hotel to provide everyone in the hub the same meal.

The changing and chaotic situation has left some of the partners in tears early on Thursday morning.

Another source said: “The Queensland Government has put the NRL in a really hard situation. The NRL liaisons and the club liaisons are doing all they can to help the families under tough circumstances.”

On Thursday morning, hotel management issued an apology and said they would do everything possible to make the stay of families more comfortable and said like the NRL had been hamstrung by Queensland Health’s latest quarantine restrictions.

The families of NRL players flew to Queensland on Tuesday. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

The families of NRL players flew to Queensland on Tuesday. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

The NRL delivered a message via the hotel’s intercom directly into each room at around 10am on Thursday morning.

“This is a message on behalf of the NRL,” the spokesperson said over the speaker.

“Dear NRL families, the past 24 hours have been challenging. Queensland Health changed restrictions overnight on short notice which require people to stay on their hotel level and avoid crossover from people on other levels.

“This is creating significant logistical challenges and reconfiguration of the hotel set-up. We are currently working with Queensland Health to address the changes and create a better environment for all of you.

“Firstly, we are working full-time to ensure deliveries of the urgent supplies you need, meeting your special dietary requirements and creating a more efficient way of being served your meals.

“We understand how difficult the conditions have been since you have arrived but we are working on a plan to provide you with more comfort and more freedom.

“Your wellbeing is our absolute priority and we will keep you updated as the situation is improved for you.”

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo also addressed the players’ families at around 10.15am pledging to “fight” for the freedom of the young families confined to their room on the Gold Coast.

Last year, the AFL players’ partners and children stayed at the Mercure Gold Coast resort in Carrara and were able to enjoy the two swimming areas, tennis court, day spa and 24-hour gym.

At the time, the daily case rate of the second wave of Covid-19 in Victoria was almost 600.

I’m comparison, the NRL has been hit with far greater restrictions on their families. There were only 110 new cases reported in NSW on Wednesday, they day the partners and kids flew to Queensland.

NRL STARS JOIN FAMILIES IN FLIGHT TO QUEENSLAND

Benji Marshall and James Roberts were two high-profile stowaways on board flights to Queensland on Wednesday as the loved ones of NRL players undertook their pilgrimage north to join their partners inside the hubs.

After a nervous five-day delay, and a late spanner thrown into the works by the Queensland government, the families of NRL players left Sydney from both Bankstown and Mascot airports, heading into a 14-day quarantine on the Gold Coast.

It didn’t come without a late drama, however.

Families were informed late on Tuesday night that the Queensland government had placed added restrictions on the travelling group, as a result of further Covid-19 outbreaks beyond Greater Sydney.

They were originally told they would have “flexibility of movement” within the grounds of the resort at which they would be isolating from the rest of Queensland. However, on Tuesday night the government moved the goalposts again.

The families of NRL players have headed to Queensland. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

The families of NRL players have headed to Queensland. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

First, the families from the Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury LGAs were separated from the rest of the group, although they will still all stay in the same accommodation.

Partners and their children will still be allowed out of their rooms for meal times, and allowed to walk around the hotel on their own. But, the Queensland government has withdrawn the exemption allowing them to exercise at the gym, use the pool or even mix with other families in isolation.

Those restrictions won’t apply to South Sydney veteran Marshall and Wests Tigers centre Roberts, who will be able to use the facilities, by themselves, to train and stay fit while serving their two-weeks of quarantine before rejoining their respective NRL teams.

While the latest tightening of restrictions wasn’t a severe change, and is still more relaxed than government quarantine which would confine them to their rooms, it was another burden placed on the wives who had uprooted their families with no timeline on when they would return home.

“We understood we had to get away and keep playing and we have a job to do to play each weekend but everyone has their own story with their family, be it a newborn baby or young kids or a partner,” Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson said from the team’s Sunshine Coast hub.

“You have to understand the support of the family unit is so important in performance.

“We just saw Giannis (Antetokounmpo) win the NBA championship (with Milwaukee) and talk about his family, his unit, how important he went straight to that family. It’s no different to any of the players. The support from the family unit can really help.

“To see the NRL work so hard to support us to do our jobs has been remarkable.

Benji Marshall will rejoin his Souths teammates at the conclusion of his 14 days in quarantine in Queensland. Picture: Lachie Millard

Benji Marshall will rejoin his Souths teammates at the conclusion of his 14 days in quarantine in Queensland. Picture: Lachie Millard

“You have to understand every person’s story because every story is different especially at the moment. There’s 41 of us and we all have one task to do every weekend — perform for the Roosters — but there’s 41 different stories.”

After their initial 14-day quarantine period, families will then be free to live under level one protocols, meaning they will be not stuck in the confines of the NRL ‘bubble’ but free to do exactly as they please like the rest of the Queensland public. The NRL has attempted to make the transition into hubs as seamless as it could for the players, who face the possibility of playing out the rest of the 2021 season in Queensland due to Sydney’s Covid-19 outbreak.

The expense of the mass relocation and accommodation of the players, their partners and children is estimated at between $10-15 million a month, although the cost of shutting down the competition would have been far greater.

I makes you wonder if this huge sacrifice & burden is worth it.

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