Britain’s lockdown rules have been put in perspective by the efforts of Australian sports fans hoping to attend the match of the year.
Some Australian Rules football supporters are prepared to fly thousands of miles to undergo two weeks in “a secure workers’ village” in the Northern Territory in order to attend the Grand Final.
The climax of the season is normally staged on the last Saturday of September at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with 100,000 fans attending. But with the state of Victoria recording more cases of coronavirus than other parts of Australia, the game has been moved to the Gabba stadium in Brisbane – the first time it has been held outside Victoria since 1897.
Queensland refuses access to anyone who has been in Victoria and New South Wales in the past 14 days. But the Northern Territory has more relaxed rules – allowing arrivals from “hotspots” to quarantine at their own expense. The cost is A$2,500 (£1,370) per person, or twice as much for a family of two or more.
On arrival by air in Darwin or Alice Springs, visitors are taken under guard to facilities outside the city – in the case of the NT capital, at Howard Springs, 30km away. The rules are strict, with no alcohol allowed.
Masks must be worn when the three daily meals are delivered to the room by staff wearing PPE. One change of linen is provided during the fortnight.
Before leaving the facility, quarantinees must agree to a Covid-19 test – or face another 10 days of internment. Once allowed out, travellers are free to explore the Northern Territory or to travel to Queensland without any further need to quarantine.
One football fan from Melbourne, who did not want to be named, told The Age: “I still see a lot of hurdles along the way before I get there – there only has to be an outbreak in Brisbane and that's it.”
An estimated 90,000 people have arrived in the Northern Territory since it opened its borders on 17 July.
In contrast, while quarantine is required for arrivals to the UK from most countries, visitors are allowed to travel to their destination and are expected to self-isolate with little or no official control.
Australia has been highly successful at keeping coronavirus under control. Over the weekend it reported 33 new cases of Covid-19, compared with nearly 13,000 in the UK.