The Chronicle digital producer Tobi Loftus in the Annapurna region in Nepal.
The Chronicle digital producer Tobi Loftus in the Annapurna region in Nepal. Tobl Loftus

'SOMBRE MOOD': What it's like to travel after isolation rule

THE Chronicle digital producer Tobi Loftus has spent the past three weeks in India and Nepal, and arrived back in Australia just hours after the Federal Government implemented a mandatory 14 days of self-isolation for overseas arrivals. This is his experience travelling back to the country.

I was in Changi Airport in Singapore about 9am their time when my boss told me I would not be returning to work for two weeks due to the measures that the Federal Government had announced.

It wasn't unexpected - I thought because of the measures New Zealand had implemented just days earlier Australia would bring in the same measures.

But it was a bit of a bummer - six-and-a-half hours difference means I would not had to have gone into isolation but I understand why it is important.

Throughout Singapore Airport there were temperature checks every 50m. 

But apart from that you didn't have to do anything specific in Singapore. At the boarding gate there was a bit of a sombre mood. Normally people would look uncomfortable before a long flight, but they were even more uncomfortable knowing they would need to self-isolate for two weeks coming home.

The flight was normal except the flight attendants were wearing face masks. The passengers sitting next to me were making jokes about what we were going to do in isolation.

None of the flight attendants mentioned the isolation until moments before we landed. We had to wait on the plane once we landed for quarantine officers to come on and make sure everything was okay.

As soon as you got off the plane, we had to write what your isolation address was going to be and contact information. This was a Queensland Government form, which said police can be doing spot checks.

After that you went to the normal e-passport gate, but the queues were longer than usual. As soon as you got through the gate there were Queensland Health officials asking you about travel history, how you were feeling and tips on self-isolation.

Yesterday while I was in Singapore I had booked a bus ticket. The travel advice said we could still use  public transport, so it allowed me to book. Two people who were also catching the bus called the bus company, which said face masks would be provided.

When the bus pulled up, they said we couldn't board if we didn't have face masks despite the government advice saying if you are in isolation, you need to catch public transport and you feel fine you don't need face masks. The company didn't provide faces masks, and there were none available in the airport.

I've hitched a lift back to Toowoomba with a couple who was in the same predicament as me. They've hired a car and very kindly let me ride in the back seat.

I feel very fortunate I can still work while in self-isolation. There are a lot of people who can't do that and will suffer a loss of income. It's the right move in terms in public safety, but it's going to be hard on a lot of people. It won't impact me financially and I'm very thankful for that.



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