image source, Kristina Sahleström image caption Kristina Sahleström was forced to attend her mother 's funeral by phone
It's been 18 months since Australia closed its international s.
Locking in was the country's main defense against the spread of Covid-19.
"I 'll take no risks with the lives of Australians " was Prime Minister Scott Morrison's mantra for over a year.
And it has largely worked. Despite the current epidemics in Sydney and Melbourne, just over1,100 people have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic. Only around 30 countries in the world are recording fewer deaths per capita.
But as the world opens up, there is no certainty when Australia will follow suit. Even if he gave up pursuing zero Covid , most Australians find themselves either locked out or locked up. And right now, around 10 million are also locked up.
A national plan gives hope for international travel once 80% of those eligible are fully vaccinated. Home quarantine is also considered an alternative to hotel quarantine.
But double vaccination rates are currently only 40%. A deployment for adolescents has only just begun. And Western Australia, which has kept Covid-19 cases near zero, has hintedre that she could keep the travel restrictions in place for much longer.
We have heard hundreds of stories of separation, despair and tragedy. Here are a few.
The missed funeral
image source, Kristina Sahleström caption of the image Ylva, Kristina Sahleström's mother and grandson, on her last visit to Sydney
Australian citizens and permanent residents need an exemption to leave the country if they intend to return. Usually, they have to agree that they will be away for at least three months.
Tens of thousands of exemptions have been granted, many for humanitarian reasons. But tens of thousands more have been turned down.
Kristina Sahleström lives in Sydney. Her mother Ylva died suddenly in Sweden at the end of July.
Kristina says she was twice refused permission to return and therefore missed the funeral. She must have watched the cremation online.
"My family told me it 's very peaceful, but when you see it on a little phone this peace translation does come not, ”she said.
" I wanted toto be there for selfish reasons, for my own good and to deal with my grief and deal with the shock of something happening so quickly. And I feel very guilty for leaving my brother alone.
"But also it was respect for being there as his daughter. It 's a level of respect which I think she should have received.
"They were unnecessarily harsh, when compassion should have been shown. This is a general rule that does not allow different situations. "
image source, Mikey Votano image caption Kathryn Relf and Mikey Votano passed over 18 months of each other
Mikey Votano is a musician and artist from Sydney. His partner Kathryn Relf is in the UK.
"We both work on cruise ships and have been together for five years. Our pre-Covid life has been between the Australia and Britain, but Kathryn and I were separated when the pandemic started and haven't been able to see each other since, "he says.
"We asked him to join me here in Australia, but all requests were denied. We paid a ridiculous amount for lawyers to ewere trying to get a visa for Kathryn to come to Australia, but we are still waiting to hear. "
" I had offers to work in Europe but until recently I have not been able to get vaccinated. I just got my first dose of Pfizer last week.
"There is work booked in Europe for June 2022, which will be my first contract in two and a half years. But with the shutdown and flight costs, I have no guarantee that I will be able to leave.
"The lockdowns in Australia have devastated the
Rachael Marciniak, 44, lives in the UK United.
Like around 30,000 Australians abroad, she wants to return home. But tight ceilings on quarantine hotels mean only a few hundred a week are making that wish come true.
A place of quarantine costs 3,000$ A (£ 1,600; $ 2,200). Flights to Australia can cost several times that amount, and are regularly canceled.
Anyone returning only temporarily must obtain an exemption to leave Australia again .
"My mother in Melbourne has been diagnosed with lung cancer. She is receiving palliative care and I need to come back to see her as soon as possible " she says.
"It's been a crazy roller coaster trying to get home. I just missed the September repatriation flights the Australian government is running with Qantas. I'm on a waiting list for last minute cancellations .
"I have lived in London since 2006, have built a life here and have a young family. The last time I saw mom was in December 2017 when I introduced my first daughter to her. She hasn't met my second child in person, but can't wait to do so. Heartbreaking is an understatement.
"MEven if I travel to Australia then I will have to apply for an exemption to be allowed to return to Australia my life and family in the UK. How can I leave my children here when there is no certainty that I can find them?
"Comment les can prominent people enter Australia so easily as we sit here grabbing all hope as an Australian citizen?
The New Parents Struggle
image source, Mahtab Sima image caption Mahtab Moalemi desperately wants help from his mother, Sima
Besides grief, one of the most common struggles we've heard about comes from new parents.
Mahtab Moalemi gave birth to twins prematurely thanks to a planned Caesarean section.
She has faced a "great struggle " since and longs for her mother, who lives in the Iranian capital Tehran.
"I desperately want my own mother to be there to support and help me. She is fully vaccinated and I have requested three times that she be allowed to enter Australia on humanitarian groundses, but each was turned down.
"The impact was huge. I was not able to properly care for my newborn twins. And my journey as a child. breastfeeding ended prematurely, after a panic attack following one of the waiver denials.
"I'm back to work part-time and I'm still on the job. taken with work, life, housework and taking care of two babies. I fell into the deepest depression.
"My husband and I have a few friends in Perth, but not much support. I cannot go back to Iran because my husband is Australian. We are seriously considering moving to another country. "
Expats sell out
image source, Marissa Parkin image caption Marissa Parkin wants her daughter Zadie to know her grandparents better
Some have decided that enough is enough.
Marissa Parkin, US citizen, and her husband , Ian, British, has just sold their Sydney home and is leaving Australia and will spend time in the US before starting a new life in Nottingham, England with their daughter Zadie.
"We are so, so sad. We made a vie here we two have fantastic jobs, we have a beautiful house, and our daughter was born here. We really never thought we would leave ... but we haven't seen our families for 18 months now.
"In the end, it comes down to family. Our daughter needs to know her grandparents. She thinks they live in a computer.
"It's not wasted on us how incredibly lucky we are to have options and to be mobile. We are grateful that we have a choice and we will take it, but it is not without a heavy heart. "
Learn more about Covid in Australia:
media caption "Heartless " Queensland prevents dying father's family