When Catherine Gill heard that she could soon visit Greater Sydney, she burst into tears.
- Many Canberrans will soon be reunited with family members in New South Wales
- Catherine Gill’s children have not seen their grandparents in three years
- The new travel arrangements will take effect from 1 November
“My husband hasn’t seen his parents in three years, so it’s amazing,” Gill said from his home in O’Connor, in the inner north of Canberra.
“They live in Sydney and we have lived abroad, so since we came back we have not been able to see them.
Yesterday’s announcement that travel throughout New South Wales would be allowed from 1 November pleased many Canberrans, but especially Mrs Gill and her family.
They have spent the last four years working in Switzerland, which “was really hard hit by COVID”.
“We had been living with a lot of limitations for a really long time, and my husband got COVID while we were there,” Gill said.
“We had planned a trip home to Australia just when COVID hit Europe [but] all airlines stopped flying.
“So we were really looking forward to coming back here to Australia.”
Families have ‘missed a lot’ while they are separated
Mrs Gill and her family returned to Australia earlier this year.
But when she ended her hotel quarantine in Perth, Mrs Gill’s father suddenly developed an illness.
“We had to hurry to Adelaide to be with him, and unfortunately he died – but the grandchildren got to see him before he died,” Gill said.
Seeing her husband’s parents in Sydney shot straight to the top of the family’s priority list.
But Canberra’s COVID-19 lockdown also put a key in those plans — until yesterday.
After reaching 80 per cent double-dose vaccination on Monday, the ACT government produced liberties for Canberrans, which allow travel to places like Sydney and NSW south coast from 1 November.
Mrs Gill said she had been looking forward to a reunion with the family – and maybe even some time on the beach.
“There has been a lot of separation from the family and we have missed a lot, but we are really blessed to be home now and very excited about the news that we can go to Sydney and see my husband’s family,” she said.
“We can actually go to the beach and meet them there. We’ve been to a landlocked country … so the thought of the beach is really exciting.”
‘I’m really glad the government has listened’
A number of other changes to ACT’s roadmap were also announced yesterday, including the reopening of retail before the end of the week; an increase in capacity limits for venues and major events; outdoor masks scrap; and reopening of dishes.
The announcement has been hailed as good news by retail store owners who have suffered significant losses due to the nine-week lockdown.
Susan Taylor owns a store in Manuka and said the change would “make a huge difference” to local businesses.
“It has been frustrating with the different rules and regulations, but I am really glad that the government has actually listened to small businesses,” she said.
Although retail will only be able to operate under one person per. 4 square feet, Taylor said she felt optimistic about the store’s ability to bounce back during the Christmas period.
“It’s still hard, but it works quite well for me because I’m a small shop anyway and we like to be very personal service,” she said.
Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said “common sense has prevailed”.
“For our retail, it was a tough weekend, I think. Hearing reports that K-mart was open in Queanbeyan and people were packing in there and buying things while unable to open the stores was a really tough one. pill to swallow. “
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