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Millionaire Melbourne business tycoon escapes coronavirus-riddled Victoria on board luxury yacht 

A construction tycoon and his family are soaking up the Queensland sunshine after they were granted an exemption to flee lockdown Victoria.

While the lives of other Melburnians are restricted by stage four lockdown, group executive director Mark Simonds managed to escaped the city’s cold winter.

He and his entourage embarked on a 15 day sailing trip up Australia’s east coast on his 30-metre long super yacht Lady Pamela.

The vessel docked at six stops along the coast before it arrived at its final destination at Gold Coast Marina on Monday morning.

The multimillionaire and six others on board were not allowed to disembark until they were tested for coronavirus by Queensland Health medical staff, who didn’t arrive until late afternoon.

Mr Simonds’ wife Cheryl, their son, and Hannah Fox, daughter of Linfox executive chairman Peter Fox were among the six other passengers and crew.

It was initially unclear if those on board were whisked away to government-approved hotels to serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their own expense or whether they were granted a special exemption to self-isolate at a private property, the Age and Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Simonds family has a Gold Coast property, while Ms Fox’s family is currently renting a home in nearby Palm Beach.

It’s understood an exemption to enter Queensland waters had been granted by the state’s health department on Sunday night.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young told reporters on Tuesday that anyone who had been on a vessel at sea for 14 days without entering a declared hotspot was exempt from hotel quarantine. 

However, she has since backflipped on the decision.

‘Following further information submitted to Queensland Health, the Chief Health Officer has revoked her exemption for seven people aboard the Lady Pamela vessel,’ a statement on Tuesday night read.

‘All seven people are now required to quarantine in a government approved hotel for 14 days at their own expense. Attempting to bypass or manipulate Queensland’s border direction is unacceptable.

A joint investigation was taken out by the Herald and A Current Affair, which is due to broadcast on Tuesday night.

A sneak preview of the show promises to reveal the ‘extraordinary’ reason why they were able to escape Melbourne in the middle of a second wave of new infections.

The footage shows a relaxed and carefree Mr Simonds cosying up to his wife as younger members on board lived it up.  

Victorian and NSW residents are currently banned from entering Queensland as both states have been declared virus hotspots. 

Lady Pamela left Melbourne on August 9 and stopped at Refuge Cove near the southernmost point of mainland Australia the next day.

Later stops included Eden and Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast, Corlette in the Hunter region north of Sydney, followed by Coffs Harbour and Yamba on the state’s north coast.

Lady Pamela spent five days docked in a Yamba inlet where the Simonds family were reportedly spotted swimming in the river and drinking on board as they waited for approval to enter Queensland waters.

It’s understood Queensland Police has been tracking the progress of the yacht since it departed Victoria and are now investigating any potential border restriction breaches.

‘As this matter is under investigation, we would not in a position to comment,’ a police spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services reiterated the public health advice for Melburnians.

‘You should not be travelling interstate unless it is for a permitted reason and you must comply with the rules that your destination state or territory has in place,’ the spokeswoman told The Age.

‘Regardless of the mode of transport, metropolitan Melbourne stage four restrictions apply to all metropolitan Melbourne residents.’ 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the Simonds Group, Queensland Health and Victorian Health for comment.

Mr Simonds has worked in the construction industry for almost five decades since 1973.

He worked alongside his father Gary who founded Simonds Homes in 1949 and was engaged in the management of the business until Simonds Group Limited was listed in 2014, according to the company website.

Mr Simonds is also the deputy chairman of Simonds Consolidated, which focuses venture capital and private equity building and construction, real estate and the vocational education sector.

He and his family live in Toorak, regarded as one of Melbourne’s most exclusive suburbs. 

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