21 Oct 2020

Nelson woman's Melbourne trip to meet baby grandson succeeds

4:30 pm on 21 October 2020

A Nelson woman whose plans to head to Melbourne were in disarray at the weekend has arrived to what she said was a polite welcome from authorities at the airport, and is ecstatic to have finally met her baby grandson.

Helen Kerr with her grandchild in Melbourne.

Helen Kerr with her grandchild in Melbourne. Photo: Supplied / Helen Kerr

Helen Kerr told RNZ on Friday she was relieved to be finally heading there, seven months after her original plans were scuppered by level four lockdown.

She had quit her job, rented out her house and was booked to fly to Australia the same day level four lockdown started in New Zealand in March.

Kerr had aimed to be in Melbourne to assist her daughter with a new baby, born mid-year. She has since been in limbo, living between family, waiting for border restrictions to change.

With the lifting last Friday of quarantine-free travel to New South Wales, she booked a ticket to Sydney online and an onwards flight to Melbourne the Sunday before, without any trouble. She said her family in Melbourne checked with authorities she could proceed to Melbourne, and was told she could.

At that stage Victoria was not party to the agreement on quarantine-free travel for people from New Zealand, but its borders were open to domestic arrivals.

Last Friday a number of New Zealanders immediately caught domestic flights to Melbourne and were stopped at the airport.

The Morrison government however said the state had no grounds to turn away the travellers.

Kerr arrived in Melbourne yesterday as planned, to what she said was a polite welcome from authorities.

"I wasn't made to feel like a criminal. The authorities were very polite ... about three of us were asked for our passport, name, address and phone number and then let go."

Kerr said a basic health check including temperature monitoring was not done in Melbourne, but had been on arrival in Sydney.

She was hugely relieved to be reunited with her Melbourne-based daughter and to have finally met her new grandson.

Kerr had no date yet for a planned return to New Zealand, where quarantine rules still applied for New Zealanders returning home.

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