Celebs rack up $1.6m quarantine security bill
Celebrities and other VIP self-isolators who were granted permission to skip hotel quarantine for a venue of their choosing cost NSW Police more than $1.6 million for personalised around-the-clock security.
While $882,000 has been repaid by celebs such as Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and Matt Damon, almost $700,000 remains outstanding.
Under NSW quarantine rules, international travellers arriving in NSW are required to enter mandatory quarantine.
However, NSW Health has granted an exemption in special cases, such as those relating to compassionate or medical grounds.
A separate program operates under the auspices of NSW Police where wealthy applicants can propose their own quarantine facilities so long as they pay for their own security, including an around-the-clock police presence.
The facilities can be at a residence - Kidman stayed at her $6.5 million Southern Highlands estate - or at a hotel of their choosing. The cost of the police hire must be paid back to the state government.
British singer Rita Ora is among those believed to be participating in a private quarantine arrangement, with The Voice judge staying at the exclusive Park Hyatt Sydney, where she is paying as much as $15,000 a night.
A source close to the star said the celebrity was footing the entire bill.
Figures obtained by the state opposition reveal the police cost up to the end of January was $1.6 million, of which $882,000 has been recouped.
While the details of those who have not yet repaid the bill have not been disclosed, we can reveal the A-listers who have settled their debts.
According to the answers provided by the state government to the opposition's questions on notice, other celebrity self-isolators to have paid their bill include Mark Wahlberg and Alan Sugar.
"The listed individuals were provided with continuous police presences during their periods of quarantine, and paid for these services," it said.
The government also revealed the cost of quarantine security for the Indian Test cricket team, the Argentine rugby union team and the New Zealand rugby union team amounted to $326,563.
It said the organisations responsible for the teams had been sent a bill.
Asked how many individuals or groups had been approved to self-isolate in NSW for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period, a NSW Health spokesman said "very few", with the majority of requests refused.
Those that did had compassionate or "extenuating circumstances", were visiting a dying family member or had a mental or health condition that required care that was unable to be provided in a hotel.
"There is a very high threshold in place for the granting of these arrangements and the majority do not get approved," he said.
State opposition police spokeswoman Lynda Voltz questioned why some celebrities were given priority over "ordinary" people who could also pay.
"I have had people come to me who have genuine reasons and are happy to pay but have been refused - so why are people like Alan Sugar being allowed?" she said.
Originally published as Celebs rack up $1.6m quarantine security bill