By Michael Roberts | posted on June 4, 2020
A DENMARK local who has spent nearly a month in quarantine after returning from overseas says WA’s hard border stance should remain in place.
Laura Blake, who had been working as an English teacher in Hungary for four years, decided to travel back to Australia after her school semester was cut short due to the pandemic.
Ms Blake travelled to London so she could secure a repatriation flight back to Perth, but soon found the only plane she could book would take her to Melbourne instead.
It meant the Denmark-raised teacher would have to spend two consecutive 14-day periods in isolation because of WA’s hard border stance.
The frustrating part for Ms Blake was that her flight back to Australia did actually stop in Perth to refuel on its way to Melbourne, but passengers were told they couldn’t disembark.
“We kind of just sat there while they refuelled and went on to Melbourne,” Ms Blake said.
“I think they wanted to spread the quarantine centres around Australia.”
After arriving in Victoria, Ms Blake said the forced quarantine process was a tightly run operation.
“They had been quarantining foreign arrivals for about a month by the time I arrived in Melbourne so it was a very streamlined process,” she said.
“They disembarked the plan row by row. On the plane they gave us a goodie bag full of masks and disinfectant.”
When Australians were first forced to stay in hotels after returning from overseas, social media was full of people complaining about isolation life in five-star accommodation and being treated as second-class citizens.
But, Ms Blake didn’t share those nightmare experiences on her 14-day stay.
“I think I was pretty realistic going into it,” she said.
“I was staying at Crown Melbourne, which is a five-star hotel, but I wasn’t expecting a five-star stay.
“I had already been distancing and in isolation when I was staying in London for a week. I had already experienced the mental processes you go through when you are in isolation.
“I feel like I was a bit more prepared than some people were.”
Ms Blake said the Victorian Government covered all her costs from the moment she left the plane to the day she could leave the hotel.
During a challenging period of isolation, Ms Blake said she was lucky to friends and family regularly staying in touch.
“You do realise your own mental strength,” she said.
“Realising the strength of your relationships with other people and how helpful that was in getting me through.”
Despite having to go through a frustrating second 14-week period of self-isolation after returning to WA, Ms Blake is more than happy to do her part to keep the virus out of the state.
“I’d rather quarantine than risk spreading anything,” she said.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s not really about the individual. It’s about taking care of everyone.”
Under current rules, interstate travellers are required to quarantine in Queensland, Tasmania, WA, SA and the NT.
In Victoria, ACT and NSW you do not need to quarantine or self-isolate if you have travelled interstate.
WA Liberal Party Leader Lisa Harvey has been a vocal critic of the interstate travel restrictions and has called on the WA Premier to take them down.
“We’re talking about our economy being impacted every day,” Ms Harvey said.
“Families losing their businesses, families who are going to lose their houses because of the lack of customers for their businesses.”
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has also urged states like WA to relax restrictions now the COVID-19 curve has been flattened.
But WA Premier Mark McGowan is holding firm on the hard border stance.
Instead, the State Government launched a $2 million tourism campaign this week titled ‘Wander out Yonder’ to encourage Western Australians to holiday in WA and boost the local tourism sector.