Frustration, fear, and, finally, sympathy.
For a Taranaki couple leaving MIQ this weekend after being granted emergency spaces to return from Sydney’s lockdown, it’s been a month of intense emotion.
For those still in New South Wales who are unable to obtain an isolation space and board a plane, the bubble closure is just getting started.
When their son Christopher broke his neck last month, Rob and Alison Thwaites flew there.
The border closed just hours before their return flight, leaving them stranded in Australia as calving season began on their farm back home.
They are grateful for emergency isolation spots they eventually received, but Rob Thwaites told RNZ the “free for all” booking process was “madness”.
“I’m very very conscious of those that are left behind that are being treated very unfairly through the lack of a fair system.”
Christopher is still recovering in Sydney; he can walk, but more surgery is required.
His parents contact him three times per day.
“He’s living in an Airbnb on his own and has to go to the hospital every day for what’s needed,” Rob Thwaites explained.
It is estimated that approximately 21,000 New Zealanders have emigrated to Australia since the bubble burst.
The government began accepting registrations for people in New South Wales for 500 places in managed isolation between August 9 and 22.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the promise of getting everyone home from Australia still stood.
“What we have committed to though is that for every flight that’s made available, it books out straightaway and there’s extra demand. We will keep working with the airlines to ensure there’s extra flights until we’ve extinguished that demand.”
Some travellers desperate to get home
As travellers in Australia desperately try to return to New Zealand, a man who set up a travel bubble group on Facebook is being inundated with requests for assistance and advice.
Anyone returning from Australia must spend two weeks in quarantine for the next two months.
Ashwin Naidu, a New Zealander living in Australia, said he is hearing heartbreaking stories from people dealing with cancelled flights, a lack of managed isolation spaces, and rising costs.
“Because different government agencies provide different answers to questions, I believe communication is a major issue when dealing with something as stressful as this because it involves people’s lives.”
Naidu said some people are paying for repeated pre-departure tests because of border changes.