Comment: By Georgina Campbell

My sister is in self-isolation nursing a broken heart and feeling guilty as hell.

On Sunday she went to Sydney Airport with the Argentinian man she loves and a thread of hope they could both return to New Zealand in such uncertain times.

But instead Covid-19 forced them apart.


Yes, they made the decision to leave Australia late in the game.

But it's hard to keep up with, let alone get ahead of, a virus that moves at the speed of a sprinter. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Just hours after they decided to leave, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the borders would be closed to everyone except for New Zealand citizens and residents.

My sister sought advice from Immigration New Zealand and understood he could travel with her as a partner. He needed a tourist visa and they needed to provide evidence of their relationship.

They gathered paperwork on previous flights they had booked together, car insurance policies, letters from landlords of the houses they had rented together, and letters from family.

But they have only been together for six months and had no history of travelling to New Zealand together, and that was that. The evidence they had gathered never got before the eyes of an immigration officer.

They decided the best option for my sister was to return to New Zealand and for him to return to a hostel on Sydney's northern beaches.


It was an emotional goodbye not knowing when they would see each other again and what would happen in between.

I sent my sister a message on Facebook to ask if she could write about how she felt.

She wrote back: "I feel guilt and heartbreak, unable to rest or sit still, worried about what his future will be. In these hard times when the future is so unclear, it's natural to want to hold your loved ones close and weather the storm together."

She told me they had been in contact and his situation was grim.

"People are fleeing from the hostel but he has no option but to stay, with no work, no accessible flights returning to Argentina, and no family around to support him."

When my sister's heart hurts, my heart hurts.

But we're not the only ones with hurting hearts.

Spare a thought for those couples who live in different flats.

With a sky-high housing market many young people are still living in large flats because renting with others is the only way to save money.

Realistically, if these couples expanded their respective bubbles to include one another and their flatmates, the bubble would become uncomfortably large.

Of course couples are capable of doing long distance, but it's epically harder to be apart in such an unprecedented time of uncertainty.

Also spare a thought for the partners who each day have to wave goodbye to their loved one working on the front line of the Covid-19 health response.

They part knowing their other half will be dealing with coronavirus cases, but also knowing that's needed to save lives.

As my sister says, in such uncertain times it's natural to want to hold your loved ones close and weather the storm.

But we have to push back against that urge, literally to protect each other, to give the country a fighting chance against Covid-19.

Luckily, love extends far beyond physical contact.