Four Australian children are in dire straits after being told they needed to fork out about £9,000 to cover hotel quarantine fees to travel and see their dying father. Mark Keans, 39, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer last July and stays at his home in Brisbane while his four children live in Sydney with their grandparents.
As Queensland authorities tighten up Covid-19 restrictions, they have repeatedly refused the family's pleas to allow them an exemption. The government has implemented travel quarantine protocols to control movement between the country's states and territories.
The ailing father, who is suffering from inoperable brain and lung cancer was told by doctors he may not make it past Christmas. It was his dying wish to see all his children but was previously advised to choose just one child who will be permitted to see him. However, the government eventually agreed to allow all four children - all of whom under the age of 13 - to travel and visit their father.
Having been granted passage for all of Keans' kids, the family had yet another obstacle to deal with. The family was given conditions to submit themselves for a two-week hotel quarantine upon arrival where the state's standard quarantine fees costs £3600 for two adults and two children. Apart from expenses for taxi transfers this also comes with a requirement to provide themselves with full personal protective equipment (PPE) during their visit at their father's home. All expenses of which could amount to roughly about £9,000 and shall be shouldered by the family.
In an article from the BBC, the children's grandfather Bruce Langborne told TV reporters:
"My wife turned around and says so what you're expecting us to pay is more money to visit him than what it's going to cost to bury my son."
A GoFundMe page was set up for the family to cover their expenses and has since raised £164,000 from outraged Australians who conveyed their harsh criticism on the government's "shameful" actions. Queensland Prime Minister Scott Morrison was said to have also donated A$1,000 (£ 570 ) out of his own pocket.
Mr. Langborne said a local member of parliament had offered to fly his son to New South Wales by air ambulance so he could be with family.
In light of the backlash Queensland Health has received after a number of similar quarantine compassionate grounds exemptions were refused, the health authorities defended its decision :
"We are in the midst of a global pandemic and we need to protect our communities, especially the most vulnerable members," it said in a statement. We understand the health directions in place are strict, but they are designed to protect Queenslanders."