Queenslanders cancel flights after overseas-born children and spouses forced into hotel quarantine

Published on : Saturday, November 20, 2021

Australians planning to return to Queensland for Christmas say they have cancelled international flights after being told their overseas-born spouses or young children would still be forced to complete two weeks of hotel quarantine.

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced the “plan to reunite families” last month, saying the state had to “give certainty” to the thousands of people who had been locked out during the pandemic.

Under the plan, Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to return to Queensland and quarantine at home after 17 December. Other international arrivals would be directed to hotel quarantine.

Australian Pip and her husband, Greg, who is a US citizen, had booked a flight to travel from their home in San Diego to Queensland on 18 December, after restrictions were relaxed.

They are both double-vaccinated and planned to travel together to spend Christmas with Pip’s family on the Sunshine Coast.

But the couple have now cancelled their flights after Queensland Health advised that Pip would be allowed to quarantine at home, but Greg would be required to stay in a hotel.

While pandemic restrictions remain broadly popular in Queensland, the state’s approach to seemingly commonsense exemptions has often been inflexible and bureaucratic.

When contacted for comment, Queensland Health said the state’s border plan was “a guide, not a public health direction”.

The relevant direction, once it is released, will aim to ensure families arriving into Queensland remain together.

This will include returning Australians and partners or children who have international citizenship. We will be announcing more in the near future.

Pip, Greg and their Australian-based relatives have already cancelled their plans. The family will travel to Europe instead so they can spend Christmas there together.

Those dollars that were going to be spent over four weeks in the Sunshine Coast and Queensland is going to Munich and Italy, Andrew said.

The airfares are going to an overseas airline. Multiply that by however many end up in similar situations.

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