Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called on tennis players competing in the Australian Open to do their quarantine, saying they'll be well paid for competing in the tournament.
Mr Morrison weighed into the furore over the grand slam event while speaking to Sydney radio station 2GB on Monday, declining to criticise the Victorian government for letting tennis players into the state from overseas while residents were trying to return from other jurisdictions.
He also rejected commentary that tennis players should not have been allowed into the country while tens of thousands of Australians were waiting to fly home from overseas.
"No one is being prevented from coming home from overseas because of the Australian Open, that's not happening," Mr Morrison said.
A day after tennis players claimed they hadn't been told of rules requiring strict quarantine measures for close contacts of people testing positive for COVID-19, the Prime Minister said the tournament's players should stick to the arrangements.
"It's just time people followed the rules, do their quarantine, play tennis. They'll get paid well for it, I'm sure they'll put on a great spectacle," he said.
"This is one of those things, you try to keep the balance of keeping things going forward as normal as you can but it obviously has to happen under some rather extraordinary rules and arrangements."
A total of 72 Australian Open players are isolating in their hotel rooms after three charter flights into Melbourne were linked to positive COVID-19 cases.
Some took to social media to complain about being unable to train while world No.1 Novak Djokovic reportedly wrote to the Australian Open tournament boss with a number of demands.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said the players were aware of the rules before arriving in Melbourne.
"People are free to provide lists of demands but the answer is no," Mr Andrews said of Djokovic's letter.
"I know that there's been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules. The rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else and they were all briefed on that before they came, and that was the condition on which they came," Mr Andrews said.
"There's no special treatment here."
Thousands of stranded Victorians will be able to return home following the easing of border restrictions with the NSW Blue Mountains, Wollongong and parts of Sydney.
Mr Andrews on Monday announced that 25 Sydney local government areas would be downgraded from "red" to "orange" zones that evening.
The Blue Mountains and Wollongong will also move from red to orange, while 16 local government areas along the NSW-Victoria border will be downgraded to "green" zones, permitting unrestricted entry.
It follows the downgrading of Greater Brisbane from red to orange at the weekend.
Mr Andrews said Sydney local government areas Blacktown, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Inner West, Liverpool, Parramatta and Strathfield would remain red zones for now.
He said the 10 areas were all linked to Sydney's Berala cluster, now totalling 35 cases.
"They will be designated red for not a moment longer than they need to be. We won't wait for all 10 to be orange. It may be that some of them come off in a few days. Others may take longer," Mr Andrews said.
"I know that's frustrating and very challenging not to be able to provide a definite answer on that but you've got to be guided by the best public health advice."
Victoria on Monday recorded a 12th consecutive day without a local coronavirus case, with almost 14,000 tests processed in the previous 24 hours.
However a tennis player and three staff members have tested positive to COVID-19 in hotel quarantine. It brings the total number of active cases in the state to 33.
Victoria's Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said he supported the strong quarantine arrangements.
"We welcome international stars coming to this state but they need to understand what we've been through and they need to make sure that they comply with those obligations," he said.
Meanwhile, a nurse and a police officer working at a medi-hotel in Melbourne's CBD tested negative to the virus after initially returning "weak positive" results.
The positive saliva swabs led to 41 other workers at the Holiday Inn on Flinders Street being stood down.
"Saliva tests are very reliable with negative results but can return occasional false positives," a spokesman from COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria said.
with Australian Associated Press