Simon Davis and his family of four were visiting family in Wollongong when they had to make a last-minute return Brisbane because Wollongong was suddenly added to the widening COVID-19 bubble.
“We basically flew down to see family we hadn’t seen for a year – we were there for one day – turned around and came home again,” the New Farm resident said.
“We saw the change last night and we changed our flights and came back a week early.
“Considering Wollongong is a mile away from the northern beaches we were a bit pissed off – to put it bluntly.
“And considering Newcastle – which is far closer to the northern beaches is exempt – we’ve had to cut our holidays short by a week and come home.”
Mr Davis, his two daughters Amelie, 16, and Vienne, 14, and wife Lisa Mandricos, arrived at Brisbane Airport on Qantas flight 520.
There were long queues and some passengers became the delay of up to two hours as airport staff checked passenger’s departure details. All passengers wore masks on the flight.
Mr Davis said the interruption meant extra costs – changing flights, returning a hire car early – and missing Christmas with his wife’s family.
“The flights are half empty, maybe a third full at the most,” he said.
“A lot of people from New South Wales who had plans to come up for Christmas have cancelled their flights so there are lots of seats available.”
Monique Navratil, originally from Sydney, had returned from Brisbane to Sydney to see her family.
“We left Friday morning to go down to Sydney for Christmas. It’s bub’s first Christmas. She’s the first grandchild on either side and everyone wanted to see her for Christmas,” she said.
“Now no one gets to spend Christmas with her.
“Luckily she is too young to know better. But still, its not ideal.”
Ms Navratil was having coffee with her brother when her partner, Chris, called from Brisbane on Sunday afternoon to let her know she had to return quickly.
“We just jumped on to Qantas website and booked the next flight out. It was just crazy – it was just ‘back to my sister’s, put everything in a suitcase and get packed and get back home’.”
Ms Navratil said there very little time offered for Queenslanders to return home.
“Originally they said we had 72 hours to get back and not quarantine and then they said it was 72 hours to get back and quarantine at home,” she said.
“I really don’t think it was fair that they didn’t give us a chance to be able to get back and not go into isolation right before Christmas.”
Queensland Health senior nurse Karen Jones – who also arrived home from Woy Woy via Sydney unexpectedly – did not believe people were becoming complacent about COVID-19.
“I think we need to put more resources into training the quarantine guards better,” Ms Jones said.
“It seems to me that all of the cases – in Victoria, South Australia and now New South Wales – have all come out of hotel quarantine.
“If we educate those people make sure we are testing them frequently, make sure that the security guards are very well educated so they know what they are actually doing.”
Tony Moore is a senior reporter at the Brisbane Times