The Australian government on Monday ordered Katie Hopkins to be deported after what a senior minister called her “shameful” boast about flouting quarantine rules while in the country to appear on Big Brother VIP.
The former Apprentice star turned far-right commentator arrived in Australia last week and was immediately placed under two weeks of quarantine in a government-mandated hotel, as per the country’s pandemic regulations.
On Saturday, the 46-year-old reportedly said in a since-deleted Instagram live video that she was deliberately disobeying quarantine rules by taunting guards and opening her hotel room door without a mask.
Australian regulations dictate people in quarantine are not permitted to open their door until 30 seconds after their meals have been delivered, and must wear masks when their doors are open.
Hopkins’s comments sparked outrage as Australia battles a Covid surge which has led to its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, being placed into lockdown.
Home affairs minister Karen Andrews said on Monday that Hopkins would be deported for her “appalling” behaviour, which also led Big Brother producers to condemn her actions and confirm she would not take part in the show.
“It’s appalling that this individual behaved the way that she did and she will be leaving,” Ms Andrews told Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“We will be getting her out of the country as soon as we can arrange that.
“The fact that she was out there boasting about breaching quarantine was just appalling.
“It was a slap in the face for all those Australians who are currently in lockdown and it’s just unacceptable behaviour.”
Australian media reported Hopkins would leave the country on Monday. The UK’s Daily Mirror said she had been spotted at Sydney airport, wearing a mask, on Monday afternoon.
The Seven Network — which airs Big Brother VIP in Australia — confirmed on Sunday that Hopkins would not feature in the forthcoming season.
It said in a statement: “Seven Network and Endemol Shine Australia confirm that Katie Hopkins is not part of Big Brother VIP.
“Seven and Endemol Shine strongly condemn her irresponsible and reckless comments in hotel quarantine.”
Hopkins’s arrival in Australia had already created a backlash, coming after the government last week halved the number of Australian citizens and permanent residents permitted to return home each week to 3,000 — a move aimed at reducing the risk of Covid-19 leaking from hotel quarantine.
More than 34,000 Australians who are seeking to return home remain stranded overseas.
Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke on Sunday said the country’s border force had launched an investigation.
Referring to a story on Hopkins’s actions, he said in a statement on Twitter: “With NSW & Victoria in lockdown, a reminder that temporary visa holders must obey public health orders.
“Australian Border Force (ABF) is reviewing this matter. Where visa conditions are breached, individuals may face visa cancellation in accordance with the law.”
Seven people have been deported since May last year for contravening pandemic-related directives, the ABF said on Monday.
“All visa holders, whether permanent or temporary, who are in Australia during a pandemic situation are expected to abide by all public health directives issued by both Commonwealth and state and territory jurisdictions,” the ABF said in a statement.
“A breach of these directions is considered a potential risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community.” – PA