Well, well, well: it looks like there’s some conflicting information around Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant‘s absence during today’s COVID-19 presser. A journalist has reported that contrary to comments by our ministers, Chant did not endorse the new changes to NSW’s roadmap to freedom.

Earlier today, Premier Dominic Perrottet announced changes to the NSW roadmap to freedom, following 70% of the state’s population receiving two doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Originally, fully vaccinated people were to be allowed 5 guests in their home and 50 guests at weddings and funerals after the state reached 70% vaccinated. Now, the amount of guests allowed has doubled, among other changes that will see NSW opening up earlier than expected.

Oddly, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant wasn’t at the presser.

9 News political reporter Chris O’Keefe grilled Perrottet on her absence, and oh boy is their exchange snappy.

“What does it say to your respect of Dr Kerry Chant that you wouldn’t invite her here today as one of your first major pressers. It is a bit disrespectful, isn’t it?” O’Keefe fired off, per News.com.au.

“Dr Chant is one of my favourite constituents in Epping,” Perrottet responded, which is an odd way to title her considering she is more than just a “constituent” — she’s NSW’s CHO.

“We’ve always had a great relationship. But … we are moving away from 11am press conferences, the health numbers will now be provided (at 9am).”

“If it’s a health crisis, the chief health officer should be here,” O’Keefe pushed back. Go off king!

“Well, it’s also an economic crisis as well,” Perrottet snapped. “I sat down with the Health Minister and Dr Chant yesterday. We went through some of these potential changes… and I think the changes today are sensible.”

Since that doesn’t really answer the question of her absence, journalists continued to interrogate why there wasn’t a single health department representative at the presser.

After being asked if the ministry’s public health team approved the doubling of household and wedding guests next week, Health Minister Brad Hazzard said “of course” they did.

“We wouldn’t be doing anything if it wasn’t [approved],” he said.

Well, now O’Keefe is reporting that actually, Dr Chant did not endorse the new roadmap to freedom after all. Interesting.

“I have confirmed Dr Chant did not endorse this new road map,” O’Keefe reported this evening on Twitter.

“The Chief Health Officer warned the new Premier these changes come with risk, but the decision was ultimately a matter for the government. A shift from Perrottet away from ‘the health advice’.”

Yikes. Chant hasn’t confirmed this herself, but hopefully Perrottet will learn from the public’s backlash and we’ll hear more from her at the next presser. Otherwise, it’s not a great look so early in his premiership.