Sandra’s ‘nowhere near COVID’ but she can’t visit her husband in ICU in Queensland

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Sandra Muller lives in the Victorian town of Horsham, 300 kilometres from Melbourne, where there haven’t been any coronavirus cases in 2021.

But she still can’t visit her husband who is in intensive care in hospital in Townsville after a workplace accident on Tuesday at the remote construction site where he was doing FIFO work left him with multiple fractures.

Sandra Muller is desperate to see her husband, who is alone in hospital in Townsville.

“It’s just very hard,” Mrs Muller, 60, said. “If we’d been near somewhere that had COVID issues we’d probably be able to take it, but we haven’t had anything, we’re nowhere near anything, and they’ve just blocked everyone and it’s wrong.”

She blames both the Queensland government for closing the border and the Victorian government for imposing lockdowns on regional areas that don’t have cases for creating the impression all of Victoria is a risk. All Mrs Muller wants is an exemption to a requirement to quarantine for 14 days in a Queensland hotel if she was to visit her husband.

Her local MP, the Nationals’ Anne Webster, said Mrs Muller was one of a string of regional Victorian residents who have contacted her in a fury because they cannot travel interstate.

“Regional Australians are reasonable people but they become very frustrated and distressed when there is no justification for this,” Dr Webster said, noting her electorate of Mallee in the north-east corner of the state hasn’t had a case of COVID-19 since September last year.

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the state was putting the safety of its citizens first.

“We know there is community transmission in Victoria,” the spokeswoman said. “We absolutely understand and sympathise that this is a difficult time, however, our quarantine policy has proved to be effective in keeping COVID-19 out of our community.”

The Victorian government is set to ease coronavirus restrictions on regional areas on Friday but that is cold comfort to people like Mrs Muller and Mildura business owner Jason Stewart who are still subject to travel restrictions.

Staff at Mr Stewart’s engineering business don’t look forward to the Christmas party.

Jason Stewart, on bike 799, at the Finke Desert Race two years ago with friends. He says it is maddening that border closures will stop him racing this year.

For them, the treat is a mid-year trip to the Northern Territory where about half attend the Finke Desert Race, a multi-day extravaganza beginning June 11 that typically draws thousands of spectators and competitors. It was cancelled last year but Mr Stewart and other competitors from Mildura, some of whom race professionally and spend tens of thousands of dollars preparing for the race, were looking forward to making their return this year.

But that will not happen because the territory closed its border to Victorians on Thursday, requiring a fortnight of hotel quarantine.

“We’re 45 minutes from the South Australian border and two minutes from NSW and we’re in the same predicament as people from Melbourne,” Mr Stewart said. “We live in Mildura, no one has been near a hotspot in months.”

“Common sense needs to prevail,” Mr Stewart said.

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