A British writer is under fire for a scathing review she wrote of Australia and New Zealand's COVID-19 border restrictions, comparing them to a "prison".
While our tight measures have largely been praised around the world for stamping out the virus, in an opinion piece for The Telegraph on Sunday, columnist Zoe Strimpel made the stunning claim Antipodeans were being held against their will in "total imprisonment".
She gave an anecdote about her friend in the United Kingdom being desperate to travel overseas.
"She needs – we all need – to leave from time to time, and immerse ourselves in a different culture, different food. And no, Yorkshire and Norfolk don't cut it," Strimpel wrote.
"Thankfully, my friend will be able to take just such a trip soon. This is more than can be said for the residents of Australia and New Zealand, countries that chose the path – much lauded by the everyone-must-suffer-to-the-max control freaks of the Left – of total imprisonment in perpetuity."
She goes on to say New Zealand and Australia have been smug about choosing to "remain prisons", while "the rest of the world looks for ways to return to normal".
According to the BBC, travel restrictions are currently easing in the UK and they have implemented a traffic light system which means depending on the country you visit, it will require different measures upon return.
Strimpel wrote that the two Down Under countries' "coronavirus control freakery" means residents will be locked down forever and there was "little chance" borders would reopen - despite the recent beginning of the trans-Tasman bubble.
"It's almost too painful to watch. Last week, we saw scenes of Aussie and New Zealander ecstasy as the desperately awaited travel bubble between the two countries was opened. Faced with the footage of relatives hugging at ghostly arrivals halls in Auckland and Sydney, and the forced jollity from the head of a decimated Qantas at the news, I found myself cackling bitterly. So much gratitude for something so tragically paltry."
Strimpel called Australia a "heart-sickening vision of how much worse things could be", and questioned what had happened to the "once-sane country".
But Kiwis and Australians on social media slammed the comments, questioning why Strimpel thought it was okay for thousands of people to die and be sick so she could go on holiday.
"What brain disease do British columnists have that makes them think being unable to [travel to] Bali is worse than more than 127,000 deaths, and continuing restrictions on daily life," one person said.
The United Kingdom has currently recorded 4,404,882 cases of COVID-19 and 127,428 deaths according to Worldometer.
New Zealand has just recorded 2601 cases and 26 deaths.
Another person questioned: "Did the author of the article leave their brain in the EU after Brexit?"
One commenter just called the piece: "Embarrassing".
"So Australia is a hell for stamping out COVID, (and New Zealand is still the hellhole of the Pacific). A truly mad way to write about us. Deluded."
This isn't the first time New Zealand's COVID-19 response has been criticised - in August 2020, Australian economics journalist Adam Creighton argued the lockdown and border closure was not deserving of praise because it was not worth the economic sacrifice.
"New Zealand is held out as a role model, but it's a small, remote country. Its biggest industry, tourism, has been ruined, and at some point its citizens may want to come and go," he wrote in a piece for The Australian.
"The question is whether a civilisation that put man on the moon a half-century ago could have come up with a more targeted way of protecting the elderly and vulnerable than causing a downturn so serious forecasting has become impossible."