‘Absolute affront’: Anger as quiet resort becomes AFL hub
ELDERLY residents of a luxury Gold Coast gated community are on edge at AFL squads using their five-star resort as a quarantine hub after the code's history of flouting the rules.
One Melbourne retiree with a holiday home in Sanctuary Cove says it's an "absolute affront" that the five-star InterContinental within it will be hosting three AFL club teams, staff and families.
However, Sanctuary Cove's resident performing magician Matt Hollywood is applauding news the GWS Giants, North Melbourne and the West Coast Eagles will take over the InterContinental for three weeks.
But he does have a caveat and has put the teams on notice: "If they don't play ball and behave the locals know I can make a few of the footballers vanish. There's a few great illusions to do that - including the Table of Death."
An AFL spokesman hosed down resident concerns, saying the code worked closely with InterContinental management "to ensure every precaution is taken".
"All AFL players, officials and families staying at the resort are subject to strict AFL protocols that includes COVID-19 testing twice a week and minimising interaction with the general public," he said.
But the footballers were allowed to exercise at the beach, play golf or venture out for takeaway coffee but can't sit in for it, the spokesperson said.
Resident Stewart Webster, 80, said the Cove community was worried about misbehaving players flouting rules and putting residents at risk.
"Sanctuary Cove is a closed community and the last people on Earth I'd ever trust with any protocols are the Australian rules footballers," he said.
The three teams are due to move in this week.
Mr Webster said he received a letter on Monday about it: "It's closed to the public, they'll have 200-300 people holed up there for the football.
"There's a lot of people who are very unhappy. It's an absolute affront given we've got elderly people living in Sanctuary Cove, it is a resort where people come, in the main, to retire."
Mr Webster, who has had his holiday home for 16 years and relocated into it in June, was annoyed residents had not been consulted ahead of the letter saying it had been decided.
"You've got 2-300 people who are of the ilk of footballers, they're not going to care at all about the protocols," he said.
Mr Hollywood welcomed the hub and expected it would give battling businesses a boost.
"They've got to be looked after somewhere. At least they'll be in a five-star environment enjoying the perks Sanctuary Cove has - not just the fancy coconuts you get by the swimming pool," he said.
"Residents won't be allowed to use the InterContinental's amazing amenities, but other than that it's all good. Sanctuary Cove brings a lot of celebrities. We've had Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, hundreds of them. Presidents and prime ministers.
"It brings the big characters. Having some AFL footballers won't be a big deal."
There has been no community virus transmission at AFL hubs in Queensland and WA but there has been rule breaches - earlier this month Elijah Taylor of the Sydney Swans was suspended by the AFL after bringing his girlfriend to the team's Perth quarantine hotel.
In July, Carlton, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Richmond were slugged up to $50,000 each for various quarantine breaches.
Defending the hubs, the AFL spokesman said: "The protocols developed in conjunction with the relevant medical professionals are in place to not only protect the players but importantly the wider community.
"We have worked closely with the resort team to minimise any disruption for residents and take every precaution to put their safety and wellbeing first," he said.
"The three teams will be based on site for three weeks and we thank the Sanctuary Cove resort team and residents for their hospitality."
An InterContinental spokeswoman said the resort, a "COVID-safe approved venue", had implemented elevator restrictions and extra PPE, installed desk shields, sanitiser stations, social distancing markers and contactless service technology, among other measures.
She said the InterContinental, an independent resort within Sanctuary Cove, was a "favourite destination for large groups who 'buy out' the resort for exclusive use".
"While it will mean residents will not have access to the resort facilities over this period, we are confident there will be no additional impact to the community.
"We do recognise, at a time of great uncertainty, regular information and transparency is critical, which is why we have proactively made information about the upcoming booking and our approach to safety available for the local community," she said.
Originally published as 'Absolute affront': Anger as quiet resort becomes AFL hub