Scott Morrison granted Covid lockdown exemption to visit Sydney for Father’s Day weekend

Scott Morrison travelled to Sydney over the Father’s Day weekend and returned to Canberra on Monday after receiving an exemption from ACT Health.

The prime minister flew to Sydney on Saturday, before returning on Monday morning to attend a national security committee of federal cabinet and the women’s safety summit in Canberra.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak in New South Wales in June, the ACT has strongly advised residents against travelling into NSW and usually requires its returning residents to undergo a two-week quarantine period.

The ACT chief health officer, Kerryn Coleman, granted Morrison an exemption subject to a level 3 stay at home order, requiring him to be frequently tested and restricting his movement while in the ACT.

A government spokesperson confirmed “the prime minister was in Sydney over the weekend and has been approved to be in the ACT under conditions set out by ACT Health”.

Guardian Australia understands Morrison was required to be in Canberra for a secure meeting and will probably return to Sydney early this week.

Morrison and other federal parliamentarians are classed as essential workers in the ACT and he is not the first to be granted an exemption to enter. The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, was given an exemption to deliver the budget in May.

Earlier on Monday, the ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, confirmed reports that Morrison “may have travelled back to Sydney”.

“I’m sure he has abided by the requirements,” Barr told reporters in Canberra.

In a Father’s Day post to Instagram on Sunday, Morrison made no mention of reuniting with his family, instead posting a photo he noted was taken earlier in the year.

“Being a dad is a special gift that we are given in life,” the caption said. “On the day this photo was taken of our family together earlier this year I was reminded of just how precious this gift is.”

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In July Labor queried whether Morrison was pushing the bounds of home quarantine at the Lodge, by holding outdoor press conferences there despite advice from Australia’s chief medical officer that anyone who attends his Canberra residence should be vaccinated against Covid-19 and take daily saliva tests.

With Australia’s two largest states in lockdown and state border restrictions preventing families reuniting with members in Covid-free states, Morrison was able to see his family on a day others were not.

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Some families gathered at the NSW and Queensland border on Sunday, reuniting over plastic barricades to be with family members without crossing state lines.

In June Morrison was embroiled in controversy over side stops on his G7 itinerary exploring his family roots in the United Kingdom, prompting claims of double standards as Australia’s border was closed at the time.

In December 2019 Morrison took a family holiday in Hawaii at the height of Australia’s bushfire crisis, for which he apologised.

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