A mum of six has slammed the Australian government for failing to use same day coronavirus testing which could remove the need for 14-day hotel quarantine.
Cristina Williams lives with her four sons in Brisbane where she works in bio-medicine while her husband Mat lives with his two sons in Phoenix, Arizona, in the U.S.
The couple used to spend two weeks out of every month together, with one flying to meet the other on the opposite side of the world – until flights were grounded in Australia due to the pandemic.
As a result, the family have seen each other twice this year after Mrs Williams spent spent ‘hundreds of hours’ on the phone begging authorities to let her fly.
Eight failed applications, emails to ‘every government department’ and $50,000 on flights and quarantine hotels later, she was finally granted permission to leave the country to see her husband for one week in September.
Mrs Williams claims the government are actively keeping people locked in quarantine for 14 days because of their refusal to adopt same-day testing.
Cristina and Mat Williams (pictured) live apart permanently and split their time between Phoenix in Arizona, in the U.S, and Brisbane in Queensland
Mrs Williams has four sons from a previous marriage and Mr Williams (second from the left) has two sons from a previous marriage
The couple knew their visits would become less frequent when the pandemic hit international shores, but didn’t think Australia would keep its borders closed for months while rejecting faster testing methods.
‘We see other countries implementing faster measures, but Australia still has this primitive 14-day quarantine.’
Countries in Europe, including Iceland, Germany, France and Greece have reopened borders with COVID-19 testing facilities in airports.
Results are issued within two days. If they are negative, the traveller is free to go – removing the need for quarantine beyond a a few days.
The Australian Government said in August that international passenger limits and a 14-day quarantine will continue indefinitely.
The couple have been married for three years and say their relationship works because they committed to living apart half the time
Mrs Williams is pictured with her four sons, left to right: Max 13, Jack 15, Cruz 12, Jett, 10
Mrs Williams says aiming for zero community transmissions before borders open is unrealistic.
‘International travel into the future will depend on testing, not immunisation. Immunisation even in best case scenarios is not 100 per cent effective.’
The frustrated mum says it’s not realistic to think everyone can be held up at the border for 14 days for the foreseeable future.
‘I’m in the medical community and every medical person knows a vaccine is unlikely,’ she said.
‘So what’s the goal, Mr Prime Minister? What happens if there’s no vaccine, or if it doesn’t work properly? Because there’s a flu vaccine every year, but lots of people still get the flu.’
All six boys at their home in Phoenix, Arizona: Jett (Mat’s son), Max, Jett (Cristina’s son), Jack, Jacob and Cruz
After two applications, Mr Williams (left with his wife)was granted permission to travel to Brisbane in June where he had to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days
Mrs Williams also slammed the prime minister for his ‘immature’ request for all Australians overseas to ‘come home immediately’ and called on the leader to plan for the possibility that a vaccine doesn’t work.
‘Scott Morrison was talking to 20-year-old’s partying in Bali when he told Australians to “come home” – it’s a really immature assessment of why people are abroad,’ she said.
‘There are people who are overseas for medical treatment, with children being born, or because they have to work – wrapping up and coming home isn’t that simple for most people.’
Her trip to the US in September marked the second time the couple have been reunited after a disastrous first attempt three months prior.
After two applications, Mr Williams was granted permission to travel to Brisbane in June where he had to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
During that time, his wife claimed he wasn’t tested for COVID-19 or given a mental health assessment once.
‘He went downhill really fast and I was in tears everyday to authorities, asking if I could go into quarantine with him.
‘I even offered to start the quarantine period again when I got there, but they refused. He didn’t have fresh air or a window – it was shocking.’
She also asked health and border authorities why celebrities were allowed to fly in and out of the country when ordinary Australians weren’t.
‘I asked them why people like Dannii Minogue were allowed in from the U.S. and my husband wasn’t – what is more infectious about his blood than hers?’
The 48-year-old singer and her 10-year-old son, Ethan, were granted an exemption to fly to Australia on medical grounds.
Ms Minogue and her son are reportedly quarantining at a private property on the Gold Coast.
Mrs Williams said her husband’s mental health declined when he stayed in quarantine in Brisbane in June
Mr Williams said he stopped opening the meals he received in Brisbane in quarantine (pictured) because ‘they were so bad’
Mrs Williams said: ‘They told me [Dannii Minogue] claimed medical exemption, which is interesting because that’s exactly what we said, and were were knocked back.’
While the mother added she is lucky to have been able to visit her husband overseas, she expressed concern for people who aren’t as fortunate.
‘There are people who have been denied medical treatment because the borders are closed.
Mrs Williams called on the government to consider faster testing and to lift the flight caps.
‘When I come back to Australia next week I’m bringing Mat with me because we need more time together, and I’m scared of being in quarantine for two weeks alone,’ she said.