A Gold Coast couple stranded in regional New South Wales and desperate to return home are “beyond hope” after being denied an exemption to self-isolate at home.
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- Gold Coast couple desperate to come home but denied request to self isolate
- Family says they pose no risk after 9 weeks on remote NSW farm
- Queensland Health says tough restrictions necessary to prevent ‘catastrophic’ outbreak
Noel and Diana Lavery insist their medical conditions mean hotel quarantine is unsuitable and have pleaded with Queensland Health to allow them to isolate at home instead.
The couple travelled to Callaghans Creek, west of Taree, in July to look after Ms Lavery’s elderly mother who lives on a remote cattle farm.
Ms Lavery’s sister normally cares for their mother but had to go to hospital for 10 days for major surgery.
“We are not holding up well at the moment,” Mr Lavery said.
“We’ve done everything we could to obey all the rules and avoid contact with people including many other close relatives.
Mr Lavery is furious he’ll have to hotel quarantine.
“We’re being asked to do it all totally at our cost, while at the same time being prevented from earning any income,” he said.
‘Can barely get out of bed’
The 65-year-old suffers a debilitating form of arthritis and has missed an appointment with his Gold Coast specialist after waiting six months for a booking.
‘I’m supposed to be transitioning onto a new type of drug because with all the previous ones the side effects were badly affecting me,” Mr Lavery said.
“I also then need to go home first to get all my medical records.
“I have to be in Queensland to take advantage of any of the emergency cancellations.”
‘Couldn’t possibly have caught COVID’
Mr Lavery said they’ve been in self isolation at the 5,000-acre cattle property for over nine weeks and pose no risk.
He said both he and his wife are fully vaccinated and have had no exposure to the wider community, apart from essential food and medical appointments which were contact-free.
“We are an hour’s drive to the nearest community but there has never been any COVID there either; we have been totally isolated.
Outbreak would be ‘catastrophic’
In a statement, state health authorities said there had been an influx of people returning to Queensland.
It said Mr Lavery’s case had been reviewed, including assessing the public health risk and the potential exceptional circumstances, and that his request was not approved.
“We know border restrictions are inconvenient and can cause disruption to people’s lives and livelihoods,” read the communication from Queensland Health.
“We must balance these factors against the serious health risk to more than five million Queenslanders.”
The spokesperson said the aim of the strict border was to limit the number of people entering Queensland who could potentially import COVID into the state, which could be catastrophic, leading to more lockdowns and even tighter control measures”.
The Laverys said they were initially told they had to travel to Sydney or Newcastle to fly into Queensland and quarantine in a hotel. But they have their car and dog with them and at that point Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had put a hold on arrivals into hotel quarantine.
They were then told they could drive to the border but would have to leave their dog behind.
“They want us to abandon our dog somewhere or leave him with my mother-in-law who needs care herself,” Mr Lavery said.
“We just seek the same COVID-safe treatment that non-residents are being afforded every day to enter and move about Queensland without hotel quarantine; like footballers, their families and entourages, truck drivers and politicians.”