Exemption for Naval Group CEO Pierre Eric Pommellet

A French chief executive has been granted an exemption from hotel quarantine and will spend his 14 days at a suburban address in Adelaide.

Pierre Eric Pommellet is the global boss of Naval Group, contracted to produce 12 new Attack Class submarines in South Australia for the nation’s future fleet – an $89.7 billion project.

He is expected to meet with Defence Minister Linda Reynolds during his visit to Australia.

A spokeswoman for SA Health told The Advertiser the exemption applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

“Under the current Cross Border Direction, a person can be directed to undertake quarantine at a suitable location other than a medi-hotel if they provide evidence of their role in national or state security or governance,” she said.

“A range of risk mitigation strategies, including additional testing and high levels of infection control, is in place for the individual and (SA Police) are providing 24/7 security monitoring.”

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Travellers arriving in South Australia from overseas are required to be tested for COVID-19 within the first 24 hours, on day 5 of their quarantine, and again on day 12.

Those without an exemption undertake their mandatory supervised quarantine in a medi-hotel.

The state reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday – a man in his 30s and a man in his 40s who have both been in medi-hotels since they arrived from overseas.

From Monday, February 15, South Australia will increase its cap by 40 people to 530 a week.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told 9 News on Tuesday his team “reached into” Mr Pommellet’s personnel “and were satisfied that the security requirements were legitimate and warranted an exemption under those circumstances”.

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“It wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly, given the resource implications that arise from that, but my understanding is the economic benefit to South Australia from facilitating this particular arrangement is certainly worth the small sacrifice we’re making to make sure it’s safe for the local community,” Mr Stevens said.

A new Naval Group Australia office at Port Adelaide will host a 250-strong workforce, and the first “regionally superior” submarine build is expected to start at the Osborne naval shipyard in 2023.

France has recorded more than 3.3 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and more than 80,000 deaths. It reported 18,870 new cases on Tuesday alone.

Mr Pommellet was appointed as chairman and chief executive of Naval Group amid the country’s first coronavirus wave in April 2020.

“I am taking up my duties in the context of the COVID-19 health crisis that we are all experiencing throughout the country – and the world – and I am aware of the responsibility thus entrusted to me,” he said at the time.

“Today, all my energy, together with the group’s management team, is entirely devoted to fighting the spread of this virus and to protecting the health of Naval Group employees and their families.”

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