News State Queensland Bordering on heartless: Grieving mum’s lonely anguish in Qld hotel quarantine
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Bordering on heartless: Grieving mum’s lonely anguish in Qld hotel quarantine

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is coming under intense pressure to lift border restrictions. Photo: AAP
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A heartbroken mother who attended the funeral of her son one week ago is quarantining alone in a Queensland hotel after being refused an exemption to isolate in her family home.

Grieving Coolangatta mum Deborah Bates travelled to Sydney after the sudden death of her son in a car accident last week.

Since September 4, a day after her son’s funeral, Ms Bates has been grieving alone in a hotel on the Gold Coast after the application to quarantine in her own home was rejected.

“I found out my exemption was denied the afternoon of the funeral, it was just a double whammy,” she told The New Daily. 

“I’ve had to leave Sydney, come here, move rooms … that all scares me. It’s irrational, but grief is not rational.”

Ms Bates’ daughter’s application to travel to Sydney for the funeral was denied, so she went alone.

Ms Bates is quarantining alone in a hotel after her exemption request was denied.

She says she doesn’t have a problem with quarantining and wants to make sure everything is COVID-19 safe but would have preferred to do it at home “in my familiar environment”.

Controversial exemptions for celebrities

Inconsistencies in the hotel quarantine scheme that have seen celebrities granted special treatment are offensive to those who really need compassionate exemptions, Ms Bates said.

In July, Dannii Minogue was granted permission to quarantine in her own home, and last week Tom Hanks and 11 family members, staff and crew arrived on the Gold Coast and were allowed to complete a fortnight of isolation in a hotel of the group’s choosing.

They let Tom Hanks come in but decide families can’t see dying love ones or attend funerals, that is enough to get angry,” Ms Bates said.

“You’re meant to look after your own first.

“If one thing could change, apart from bringing my boy back, hotel quarantine should be more scrutinised for compassionate cases.”

To make the situation worse, Ms Bates was first put in a room next to the highway, before the hotel staff found out she had just lost her son and moved her to the other side of the building, with a balcony and sea views.

“I was having heart palpitations every time there was a screech of tires,” she said.

The New Daily contacted Queensland Health for comment on Ms Bates’ situation.

“We know this is tough, but this about preventing more people dying,” a spokesperson said.

“We’ve seen what happens when things don’t go right in other states and other countries, and we’re working so hard to protect Queenslanders from those same consequences.”

Queensland’s border measures under fire

Queensland strict border measures are increasingly coming under attack, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighing in this week after it was revealed the state had refused to allow Canberra woman Sarah Caisip, 26,  to attend her father’s funeral.

Canberra has not had a case of COVID-19 for more than 60 days.

“I’ve seen the images of when she went to see her dad … there have been some shocking days in the course of this pandemic, and today just hurt,” Mr Morrison told Sky News overnight.
“I’m glad she got to say one last farewell to her father, Bernard, but gee I wish she was able to give her mum and her sister a hug.”

The Queensland election will be held on October 31 and the state border controls have been popular with voters.

Polling consistently shows widespread support for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s handling of the pandemic response.

Sarah Caisip was given permission to view the body of her father Bernard Prendergast in Brisbane on Thursday but could not attend the funeral. Photo: AAP

The Liberal National opposition has shifted on the issue after initially calling for the borders to reopen in June. They now support it.

But a string of heartbreaking incidents, including the death of an unborn baby from Ballina whose mother was waiting for a medical exemption to cross into Queensland, and stopping Ms Caisip attending her dad’s funeral before making her dress in full PPE gear to view his body, has put that national spotlight on the closure.

On Friday, Premier Palaszczuk defended her tough stance.

“These are difficult decisions and they’re heartbreaking,” she said.

“I’m human just like everyone else. These issues hurt me deeply.

“They hurt me deeply because during this pandemic I have lost loved ones as well. I know exactly what people are going through.”

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