Readers Respond to Australia’s Never-Ending Travel Ban

With the borders closed, grandparents, new parents and internationally engaged people react with frustration, anger, disappointment and tears.

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Over the last four years, since we opened the Australia Bureau, I have often been impressed by the thoughtfulness and global understanding of our regular readers. This newsletter has always drawn together a far-flung community of Australians and those who love them.

But when Basha Rodale wrote in last week’s letter about Australia’s decision to keep its international borders closed by mid-2022, Floodgates opened up in a way I rarely saw. His heartfelt article was well read around the world, and when we asked for your opinion on the travel ban, we received hundreds of replies from all over the world.

Though opinions varied, and there was some support for restricting travel, much of what we found was a mixture of disappointment, disappointment, and confusion.

Yan Zhuang wrote about these feelings in a news article this week, but even that may not be enough to capture the amount of emotion. So we decided to share some more responses below (they have been edited for brevity and clarity).

Thank you to everyone who contributed – and we hope to meet your loved ones soon.

I am like thousands of migrants from all over the world; We are saddened, confused, and completely frustrated by the government’s lack of communication, unwillingness and sympathy for the matrix or timetable. It seems that there is almost no capacity for nuances, no desire to consider many points on the spectrum between strict closures and widening gates, and the difference between traveling for pleasure or holidays and family reunions. Other than the inability to do, vaccinations vs. unrelated travel, and any further ‘zero case at any cost’ to Australia.

– Monica Eilith

We are US citizens who usually travel to Perth once or twice a year to meet our daughter, who is a dual citizen of the US and Australia. We are both in our 70s, fully vaccinated, and cannot understand why parents do not fall within the Australian definition of “immediate family” for exceptions from travel boundaries. Our son and his fiancée are planning their wedding, which has been postponed from 2020 to April 2022. Will our daughter not be able to go to America to attend her only brother’s wedding? Can an appropriate risk-based approach be considered by the Australian Government to resume international travel as soon as possible?

– Paul Hamre

We moved from Geelong / Melbourne to San Francisco and then New York seven years ago to pursue a career in technology and the arts. Our eldest is about 4 years old and our youngest is about 1. We do not have a family here. Our entire family lives in Geelong / Melbourne and Canberra.

I cried after reading your article, but like last year I also strengthened myself against another setback. We thought my parents might come in October, then we could fly back together and quarantine with their help with the kiddos, maybe see my sister, her family, and my beloved nephew.

Now, how naive it sounds! The idea that my son will be 2 years old before visiting his grandparents and aunts is one of those thoughts that I cannot pay attention to.

– Olivia Jones

I came here from the US with my Australian husband (and dual civilian children) last year, and of course we are extremely grateful for the general situation here, it seems strange to imagine that we would freeze the country under the glass for years can do. We feel a little, well, trapped in heaven. I hope that the government will soon place a high priority on safely opening our borders as if we can distance ourselves from the world indefinitely.

– Arwen Griffith

My only son likes to live in New York. I am a quadrilateral and miss their company but we can FaceTime as many times as we want or destroy the idea, engage in meaningful correspondence – where is the difficulty compared to the greater good?

– Ron Irish

My two grandchildren live in Sydney, they are about 5 and 2. Oh, we’ve got a hug. I know that many people missed a hug during the epidemic, but once they got vaccinated, they hugged. Will Australia open in 2022 as they say or will the epidemic continue for years to come? Will I be around to hug my grandchildren again? I had suppressed my feelings somewhere deep inside myself, knowing that it is the same and there is nothing I can do about it but I found myself in Bashe Rodale’s article and it made me in tears.

– Elizabeth Gundlacho

This travel ban has ruined my life! I haven’t seen my fiance in 16 months. For the past one year I have been living sad, angry, frustrated, irritable, lonely and confused every day. I feel completely abandoned by my country, people who are completely fine with the travel ban and simply see thousands of Australians suffering as a necessary sacrifice.

The level at which the Australian Government has taken seriously people like me and our concerns is almost nil. Most of us have become accustomed to the fact that our lives will not change in the near future, that there are hundreds, if not dozens, of days that await us. We walk like ghosts, our lives are halted, waiting to be with our loved ones, their children, their parents – a few years left; We wait to be back to normal again.

– Luke Penman and Alba Olaya

Now here are our stories of the week.

  • Australia, ‘Hermit Nation’? Some have warned against another year of closed borders. The Prime Minister said, “I am not going to take risks with the lives of Australians.” But critics say that reopening it by mid-2022 could cause permanent damage.

  • As more Australians migrate to the coast, development follows. Coastal development around Australia is booming due to population growth and epidemic-related hunger for being close to water.

  • The first repatriation flight from India to Australia returned half empty. The flight was scheduled to carry 150 passengers, but only 80 passengers.

  • The Gaza conflict is causing an ‘identity crisis’ for some young American Jews. A new generation is facing the region’s long-standing conflict in a very different context, with very different pressures from generations of its parents and grandparents.

  • China released first pictures of rover after landing on Mars. The country’s space agency said the components of the spacecraft were “normally deployed”.

  • Sinéad O’Connor remembers things differently. Mainstream legend has it that a pop star tore a picture of Pope on “Saturday Night Live” and derailed his life. What if the opposite were true?

  • The art of sneaker. A new exhibition in London showcases the rise of global sneaker culture, from display shoe to Cult Collector items. But are they in the museum?

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