NRL players have been allowed to relocate to Queensland to play footy. (Image: Jason O'Brien/AAP)

The case of Melbourne nurse Maddie Newton is a heartbreaking reminder of how law-breakers have the upper hand in the COVID-19 crisis. And unless they can be held to account (and exemptions to rules be kept for genuine cases, not footballers) calls by authorities for the rest of us to stay home and wear masks will be ignored more generally.

Just for a moment put yourself in the shoes of 26-year-old Newton. She’s a health professional; a nurse. She's been vaccinated. And all she wants to do is return to Queensland to be with her seriously injured brother.

Her dad, who raised her and her siblings after her mother’s death a decade ago, died in a car accident last week. Her brother is listed as stable. And her place, she believes, is by his bedside.