An Australian woman who flew to Sydney from New York has been told she would have to book a $5,000 charter flight in order to see her dying father in Melbourne.
Anna Coffey, a student in New York, was informed by her mother on Monday that her father’s condition was worsening after he suffered a second stroke. She booked the first available flight she could find, which was to Sydney.
She had assumed she could apply for an exemption to quickly see her father in Victoria, but has instead been met by a series of increasingly frustrating obstacles.
“I’ve provided them with what they’ve asked me for, and every time they come back the next day they ask for more things I need, more evidence than what I’ve provided,” Coffey said.
“I’m having to deal with the stress every day of guessing whether my father will be alive tomorrow, let alone having to jump through all these hoops. It just feels so insensitive.
“I don’t feel like there’s any goodwill at all in this whole process. It feels like it’s their way or the highway. I feel very frustrated and very hopeless.”
Coffey, who is in hotel quarantine in Sydney, told Guardian Australia that NSW Health told her the only Covid-safe means of getting to Melbourne was to book a charter flight.
“They said that the only way I could get out of quarantine early is by chartering a flight which will cost $5,000, on top of the thousands I’ve already spent to come here,” she said.
“I’ve even proposed to them to allow me to go and drive myself, without coming into contact with anyone, which is surely preferred.
“I’m definitely going to be coming into contact with more people if I book a charter flight, whereas I could do it in a stress-free way which wouldn’t cost thousands of dollars.”
NSW Health has not responded to a request for clarification.
Coffey said NSW Health had asked her for a series of documents from the medical team treating her father at a Melbourne hospital and had not indicated if she would be allowed to see him or not.
“They need another letter from the medical team that’s treating my dad, to say what the critical condition and prognosis is, despite the fact that the initial letter I’ve already provided them with covers that. They want a letter that says I need to come out now because he won’t make it to the end of the quarantine period.
“Just generally, the process is insane – I have to get NSW all these documents specifically requested by them, and then I need other documents for Victoria. I have to jump through all these hoops, and time is of the essence.
“I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to get out of here any time soon.”
Coffey, who has been vaccinated against Covid, said she had tested negative twice already, once last Friday and again on Monday. She had also taken another test earlier on Friday.
“If I had known that this would be such a nightmare, I would have taken a later flight straight to Melbourne, because now I’m probably going to have to stay here for the full two weeks, and I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to say goodbye.
“The likelihood of there being any risk is so minuscule, and I’m willing to take any precaution that is required.
“I’m also a student, I can’t just spend $5,000 whenever, and I shouldn’t have to.”
Earlier on Friday, the Victorian government reclassified all of greater Sydney, the central coast, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour as “red zones”, meaning people who have been there in the past 14 days are not permitted to travel to Victoria.
Anyone who has arrived in Victoria from those regions since 11 June must get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Coffey said she might have to pay the money and book the flight if there was not another choice.
“I think that if the doctors said he was going to go in the next few days, and I don’t have a choice, I think I would have to consider it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”