There are more than 36,000 Australians stranded overseas due to flight caps into the country — 8,000 of those are considered vulnerable, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Defence (DFAT).
But Hollywood superstar Mark Wahlberg on Monday flew into Sydney, where he reportedly avoided compulsory hotel quarantine and boarded a second flight to the trendy beachside town of Byron Bay.
Mark will apparently complete 14 days of self-isolation with his entourage at a Byron Bay mansion.
The Daily Telegraph reports the actor, 49, was granted special permission from New South Wales Health to quarantine at a private property, which is reportedly costing $400,000.
The number of Australians allowed to return home has been limited to 4,000 a week since July. Since then, a predicted 100,000 Australians have scrambled to get home, with some families forking out up to $50,000 to secure their passage into Australia safely.
Many Australians trying to return home are complaining of repeated flight cancellations or being “bumped” off flights in favour of business or first-class passengers, sometimes within hours of departure.
According to NSW’s Public Health Order: “Exemptions to hotel quarantine are rarely granted.
“Exemptions are only considered where there are strong medical, health or compassionate grounds, or the person is transiting out of NSW to an international destination.”
NSW Police told HuffPost Australia in a statement: “An individual can put a proposal forward to acquire independent locations meeting the same standards as NSW Police-managed hotels to be nominated as ‘Quarantine Facilities.’”
Without naming Mark, NSW Police added that an individual must meet the same obligations as any returned traveller.
“The weekly cap includes all international arrivals,” NSW Police confirmed to HuffPost.
Mark is in the country to film a Ladbrokes advert.
Last week the dad of two attended a Thanksgiving service with his family at a church in Beverly Hills.
The coronavirus pandemic is surging in the United States, with more than 13.9 million confirmed cases and more than 273,000 dead so far.
A grim milestone was reached on Wednesday, when the US hit the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a single day since the pandemic began. Just over 2,800 people died of the virus on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data, higher than the previous record of about 2,600 people dying one day in mid-April.
With files from Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, HuffPost US.