Australian border ban sent Kiwi honeymooners through Middle East

New Zealander Therese Mitchell in Italy.
New Zealander Therese Mitchell in Italy. Photo credit: Supplied

A Christchurch woman going into isolation after returning from a honeymoon in Italy is criticising Australian border restrictions.

Therese Mitchell and her partner Brett McDonald touched down at Auckland Airport this morning, after travelling to Italy with the tour company TripADeal.

They are returning home to Christchurch to self-isolate for the next 14 days, and say they are not taking any risks.

"It's going to hit New Zealand pretty hard soon, it was amazing how quickly it hit Italy, it just hit really, really fast. It was like being in an apocalypse movie, people look bewildered and very scared.

"Some of our group was left over there. They ended up planning on leaving on Saturday, but by Saturday things had got quite drastic in Italy and they'd closed borders. It was hugely emotional."

Mitchell said she shed some tears of relief once back on home soil, but they could have been home two days earlier if they had not been banned from transiting through Australia.

On Thursday Australia introduced a ban on foreigners travelling from Italy, which is the country with the largest number of infections outside China.

Mitchell said this meant they had to fork out for expensive flights home through Qatar, because they could no longer use their connecting flight through Australia to get home.

"Our biggest upset was that we were locked out of the Australian transit border - it's not like we were going to be heading actually into where anybody was going to be.

"The transit lounges are pretty quiet, you don't get to see anything, you don't get to do anything.

"So I think it was really rubbish what they did to us."

Once home they will be in isolation at home for the next two weeks, Mitchell said.

"I run a business in Christchurch that deals with a lot of people, and I don't want to ... go back to work and infect people. That would be the worst thing we could do.

"We're going to sit in our house, and we're going to have fun and we're going to do honeymoon stuff. And we're going to register with Healthline and do everything they ask of us, we're not intending to go out."

She said lots of friends have made offers to pick up groceries for them.

"We were very lucky at the timing - we weren't actually in an area that was hit in Italy, we were in Rome. So it's not like some of the northern Italy areas.

"But a lot of the shops were closed, and there was nothing to do in Rome, so we pretty much self-contained in our hotel anyway."

Extreme lockdown measures were put in place throughout all of Italy last week, to try to contain the spread of the virus.

Schools, sports events, cinemas, theatres and museums were ordered to close, and shops and restaurants were told to ensure all patrons remained at least a metre apart.

Mitchell said their experience has reinforced the precaution that all New Zealanders travelling overseas should register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"If they don't know that someone is over-seas, how can they [help] them?"

RNZ

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