Police reveal what’s next for COVID-breach teens
Police are dealing with an "added layer of complexity" when it comes to the two teenage girls who travelled to the Sunshine Coast from a COVID-19 hotspot without quarantining.
Sunshine Coast Police Superintendent Craig Hawkins confirmed the two girls, aged 15 and 16, were in police custody Monday afternoon but had not been arrested, as reported by some media outlets.
Police picked up the girls at Noosa Civic shopping centre.
Supt Hawkins said they would likely be charged in time under the Youth Justice Act.
"They certainly could be charged if the circumstances were warranted," Supt Hawkins said.
But Supt Hawkins said the first priority was to ensure the girls complied with the Chief Health Officer's (CHO) directive.
Supt Hawkins confirmed minors are expected to comply with the CHO directive the same as adults, but the next steps posed a challenge as they could not place children in quarantine without a guardian.
"Because they are minors there are other layers of work we need to do about supervision and guardianship and parental responsibilities that need to be considered," he said.
"I am not talking about prosecution, I am talking about in order to quarantine.
"Obviously we can't put a child in quarantine on their own, so the supervision aspect has to be considered."
Supt Hawkins said the girls had undergone COVID-19 tests at Sunshine Coast University Hospital this afternoon but would refused to confirm their whereabouts since then.
Supt Hawkins said he was unable to specify when the test results would be available, but said Queensland Health was dealing with the matter.
He said the girls' guardians had been contacted and were aware of the situation.
Supt Hawkins said one of the girls is a Sunshine Coast resident, the other is from New South Wales.
They are understood to have entered Queensland from Sydney via Brisbane, and caught a train to the Sunshine Coast where they remained for several days before police found them.
Queensland shut its borders to all of New South Wales on Saturday, however Sydney was already considered a COVID-19 hotspot when the girls arrived and as such, anyone who travelled to Queensland from there was required to quarantine for 14 days.
Supt Hawkins said while the minors would typically face the same penalties as adults in regards to COVID-19 directive breaches, the Youth Justice Act offered several other avenues for prosecution.
Supt Hawkins said he could not confirm if the girls were aware they had breached the CHO directive.
"The level of maturity and decision making of young people can be questionable, that's what it comes down to," he said.
Supt Hawkins urged people to contact authorities if they had any concerns regarding COVID-19, rather than rely on social media as a reliable source of information.