The Victorian police minister Lisa Neville has insisted Tennis Australia – and not taxpayers – will foot the bill for quarantining Australian Open players, coaches and officials, as the number of positive Covid-19 cases linked to the tennis tournament grew to 10.
“Hotel quarantine for the Australian Open is fully funded by Tennis Australia, I’ve triple confirmed that again today,” Neville said. “I want to be really clear about this.”
She was forced to clarify the details after Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley told radio station 3AW on Wednesday morning that the state government was contributing to an expected $40m in quarantine costs.
Tiley did not put a figure on the government’s share. “That’s still to be determined because we’re still in the middle of that,” he said. “Probably the end of next week or the week after we’ll know exactly.”
Neville said Australians returning home from overseas had to pay for their own quarantine, so it was only appropriate that players do the same.
The minister announced there were three new Covid-19 cases linked to the grand slam recorded on Wednesday morning - two players and one support person. It brings the cases linked to the tournament to 10, though Neville said one of the players may be reclassified as a historical case.
A total of 72 players remain in hard lockdown after being deemed close contacts of positive Covid cases on three charter flights into Melbourne from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Los Angeles.
The latest suspected shedding case is already in hard lockdown which means they are not allowed out of their hotel room to train for five hours a day like other quarantining players. The other two cases are now in hard lockdown, along with everyone in their training bubble.
Tiley also reportedly contradicted Victoria’s health department on Tuesday when he said no players had tested positive to the virus.
Meanwhile Kazakh tennis player Yulia Putintseva, ranked world 28th, complained about a mouse in her quarantine hotel room on social media. There were “a lot of” the pests, Putintseva said on Twitter, sharing footage of the culprits, and revealing she had changed rooms only to find more.
In response, Twitter users gave her advice such as, “Only on rare occasions mice attack humans, you should be fine,” and “Ask for a mouse trap or have a taxi go get one and deliver it to the hotel.”
Neville had some advice too, saying players should “minimise interaction with the mice”.
“We did, firstly, move the particular tennis player … I just encourage them to minimise interaction with the mice, we will keep doing pest control if we need to, but hopefully that pest control work that was done this week will have fixed the problem.”
Meanwhile, no cases of community transmission of Covid-19 were recorded in Victoria, New South Wales or Queensland on Wednesday. The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said it meant restrictions may ease in one week if the trend continued.
But people should expect masks to remain compulsory in some settings, such as supermarkets and public transport, she said.
“The reason why we might take that approach in terms of the mask wearing is because we’re still looking at the impacts of the contagious strains of the virus that are emerging,” she said.