SA travellers were beside themselves as they were told mid-flight they would have to turn around immediately or pay for two weeks’ quarantine.
Travellers from Adelaide to Perth on Sunday night broke down in tears as they were told mid-flight they would not be allowed to enter WA, and would need to pay for quarantine or turn around.
The passengers — who included a jewellery tycoon and a grandmother who hadn’t seen her grandchildren for a year — were excited to make the trip, with the border opening just 48 hours earlier.
But as the flight took off, three locally transmitted cases were announced in South Australia, forcing Western Australia to slam its border shut — even to those already en route.
South Australian businessman Albert Bensimon, who was on a Perth-bound flight, told NCA NewsWire a few people “broke out in tears” when they heard the news.
“I don’t think they either had the money to fly back or to pay for quarantine for 14 days or perhaps they were unhappy they couldn’t see their loved ones,” the Shiels Jewellers owner said.
“We booked a return flight almost as we were landing. Prices jumped but we didn’t care. We just wanted to get back home.”
Glenelg resident Sharyn Williams said she flew to Perth to visit her daughter and two grandchildren, aged 2 and 4, whom she had not seen for a year.
“My grandchildren were hysterical in the car. My daughter waited in the car for two hours to come pick me up,” she said.
“I’m concerned about what’s happening because my family from there booked to come here before Christmas but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
The 50-year-old said she had to return home because she could not quarantine for 14 days in WA with her daughter.
“We knew nothing of this until we got offloaded about half an hour after we landed. The staff knew nothing. It was absolute chaos!”
Travelling over for business, Stefan Ahrens of Gilberton said he was on-board Sunday’s flight to Perth and was told about the border closure once he landed.
The 52-year-old said passengers were given an ultimatum: to quarantine for 14 days or return to Adelaide. He chose the latter.
“We landed and were about to get off but nobody knew what was going on and they asked us to stay still,” Mr Ahrens said.
“Then they said they’d take us off the plane and put us in a separate lounge for an hour or two and told us we had two options.
“At the time with only three cases, we thought they (authorities) were overreacting but when you see how quickly it’s spread, we live in unprecedented times so you have to go with the flow.”
Just 48 hours after allowing SA residents into WA without having to self-isolate, the state’s government now requires all visitors from SA to quarantine for 14 days.
Other jurisdictions soon followed WA’s lead with border restrictions now in place for Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
These were announced in a series of press conferences held on Monday, where leaders of other states and territories claimed the southern city posed too much of a risk to their own residents.
New South Wales has not yet closed its border, and neither has Victoria — though Premier Daniel Andrews has declared Adelaide a virus hot spot.