9 May 2020

Month in quarantine bars Brisbane-based man's bid to see dying mum

9:41 am on 9 May 2020

The cost of mandatory quarantine on both sides of the Tasman means a New Zealander living in Brisbane will not be reunited with his dying mother in Auckland.

Commercial airline. Passenger plane landing at airport with beautiful sunset  sky and clouds. Arrival flight. Airplane flying in a line for landing. Aircraft open light in the evening flight.

The friend of man whose mother is dying hopes quarantine rules will be eased so the man can make a last-minute flight to see his dying mum. Photo: 123rf.com

A close friend of the man - both of whom RNZ has agreed not to identify - said his mother was gravely ill.

"They've only just recently taken her off dialysis and since then she's suffered major heart attacks and is really going downhill quite quickly."

She said the man, who had a young family, understood the need for the quarantine period, but couldn't afford to be off work for a month without even the guarantee he'd be able to see his mother.

"The only way he can see himself getting into the country is doing the two-week quarantine in New Zealand and then a two week quarantine on the other side [on the way back] so to visit his mother will take at least a month, which he's financially unable to do because of his work."

The friend said a recent High Court decision allowing Oliver Christiansen, who had returned from the UK to see his dying father, to leave quarantine at an Auckland hotel early had given her hope.

But her friend didn't share her optimism.

"So even in my conversations with him over the last week where I've said there is still hope you could get here without having to do two weeks' quarantine it was still like 'but I'd have to do a two-week quarantine on the way back and with work and financial hardship that's a bit hard'."

She said the man had become resigned to the fact his mother would die without him being there to comfort her or other members of his family.

"It's awful that he's unable to see her. He's almost given up hope. He's just taking it day by day. So, yeah he's pretty distraught but I think he's just come face to face with the fact he's not going to see his mum before she passes."

The man was keeping in contact with his mother via messaging apps and taking comfort in the fact his brother was able to be with her, she said.

"He's able to support her but obviously from a distance with all of the restrictions. But there is only one person there for her through this really trying time, so his mother has only one supportive person and her other son is stuck in Brisbane and can't come."

The friend said she was keeping a close eye on whether quarantine restrictions would be relaxed in the hope the man could make a last-ditch attempt to see his mother.

After the High Court decision, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield asked that all requests seeking to break quarantine be reviewed.

The Ministry of Health said on Friday that as of 6.30pm on Thursday it had received 367 requests to be exempted from managed isolation.

It had approved 42 of those, but only seven have been granted on compassionate grounds.

A further 65 requests are still being processed.

More than 3000 people remain in some form of managed isolation.

On Tuesday, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said the process for responding to requests to leave quarantine should not be "automated" but it had to be remembered why the quarantine restrictions were there in the first place.

"These are devastating cases. The incredible, difficult judgement the Ministry of Health is making is that, from memory, we've had over 20 cases of people who have been in isolation having come in from overseas and subsequently tested positive for Covid. So, that is the really difficult position that those making those judgements are in."

Managed isolation exemption requests (as on 6.30pm on 7 May)

  • Received - 367
  • Approved - 42
  • In progress - 65


  • 7 medivac
  • 7 compassionate grounds
  • 19 medical or other needs that cannot be met in the facility
  • 1 extradition
  • 6 transit
  • 2 critical workers

In facilities in use as of midnight 6 May

  • 18 hotels
  • managed isolation (well) - 2907 persons
  • quarantine (unwell) - 185 persons

Due to leave 8 May 7

  • 197 from managed isolation
  • 8 from quarantine

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