Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Blighty publicans in virus isolation

By Daniel Hughes

Blighty Hotel publicans Jason Savage and Donna Milne are in mandated self-isolation after returning from an overseas trip at the weekend.

The pair were aboard the now infamous Ruby Princess cruise ship which docked in Sydney from New Zealand on Thursday morning.

All passengers were given approval to disembark the ship, only to discover there had been at least four suspected cases of Coronavirus on board a day later.

They pre-warned their regular customers via social media on Friday they would be returning the next day, and the hotel would be closed for at least two weeks.

‘‘Once we got to Sydney we were allowed off because everyone was under the impression there was nothing wrong with anyone on board,’’ Ms Milne said.

‘‘Come Friday morning, Jason received a text message to say there has been a positive case in someone who was on board.

‘‘We had been cruising around New Zealand, and it was meant to be a 13 might cruise but we returned home early. We missed three ports as a result.

‘‘Because we were not due back in Australia until Saturday (March 21) we had arranged to stay a few days in Yarrawonga instead, but once we got the text message we started planning to come home straight away.’’

Mr Savage said the pair chose not to cancel their trip because the cruise company would not offer a refund.

‘‘They were not offering refunds unless you had recently been overseas or were in direct contact with someone who had Coronavirus, but then we came across people on the boat who were from America,’’ Mr Savage said.

‘‘There were no restrictions in movement on board the ship, but we were of the understanding noone was sick.

‘‘The only point of anger I have is that noone told us what was going on.

‘‘Donna and I both seem fine, but who knows.  Some people say they only get mild symptoms and some say they had none at all.’’

The couple’s isolation now coincides with a NSW Government directive that all licensed premises close.

While those with takeaway services can continue to operate at a restricted capacity, Mr Savage said it’s still unclear whether Blighty will offer takeaways after their quarantine ends on April 2.

‘‘We could potentially reopen to offer takeaways, but we’re not even sure we’ll be allowed to that by the time we can,’’ Mr Savage said.

‘‘Things are changing so fast, and it is my belief takeaways will be stopped in the next two weeks too.

‘‘Everyone is in the same boat now with these new rules, and there are some people who are worse off than us.’’