New Zealand's tight borders are keeping thousands of Kiwi families apart - including the families of health experts calling for those very restrictions to be put in place.
Prominent epidemiologist Michael Baker's son is among Kiwis currently shut out of the country and likely to miss the start of his 2022 university studies because he can't get a place in a managed isolation facility.
George Baker followed young love's calling to be with his girlfriend in Australia last year after she got a job over the ditch.
But while the 19-year-old was able to do his studies online last year, this year he needs to be back and attending his law degree lectures in person.
Another son of Baker's lives in Canada where the epidemiologist's first grandchild was born five months ago.
Baker said his sacrifices are no more special than other Kiwi families, but it highlights how tough Covid pandemic restrictions are affecting everyone.
He said he has taken no pleasure recommending what some would consider draconian measures and is wounded by any suggestion he is a "cold hearted epidemiologist".
"You are very reluctant to suggest some of these things - they are unthinkable things really - closing borders and telling people to go home and stay home for weeks," he said.
"No one likes to deliver bad news."
Yet he believed it's been important to speak in the media and push for border restrictions, lockdowns and mask use when needed because these measures are important and had saved lives, he said.
"If we had the Covid-19 mortality rate of the UK or US we would have had about 12,000 deaths by now. Instead we have had 53, by far the lowest mortality rate in the OECD," he said.
It comes as pandemic weary Kiwis are locked in debate about whether returning citizens and permanent residents should still be forced to quarantine in managed isolation facilities to prevent the wide spread of Covid.
The Government is expected to announce today when it plans to loosen the restrictions.
The limited number of hotel rooms available for isolation means many Kiwis overseas have been unable to return home throughout the pandemic.
Others have heartbreakingly been unable to be with sick and dying loved ones, or in the recent case of pregnant Kiwi journalist Charlotte Bellis have battled to come home to give birth.
And as Kiwis have become more pandemic weary, so has the online vitriol and threats increased against experts speaking out, Baker said.
In addition to being unable to see his sons, Baker also has an identical twin brother in New South Wales and his wife has a sister in Queensland that they would typically see once a year pre-pandemic.
His workplace is also affected by the tight border with PhD students unable to arrive to begin their studies.
Still, he knows these are trivial problems compared to what some have been going through.
"I can barely comprehend the immense grief and heartbreak that other people are going through ... such as missing a dying relative or friend," he said.
He said he is human like everyone else and his advice has always been given from a public health perspective that considers the population as a whole.
Tight borders with returning travellers quarantining in isolation facilities had helped New Zealand pass through a pandemic that killed millions overseas in much better shape on nearly every metric, be it healthwise or economic, he said.
And MIQ had continued to play an important role during the Omicron outbreak.
Without border quarantines, up to 50 Omicron cases could be landing a day, helping seed the virus in all parts of the country and push the outbreak along at breakneck speed, ultimately putting pressure on the health system.
"You only have to look at Australia to see that could be us if we don't use every day to prepare," he said.
However, now Omicron was in New Zealand, the need for MIQ had become a lot more "contested" and Baker backed the idea that "it is now quite likely we will see relatively open borders this year".
"The equation has changed, we've got effective vaccines making infection more tolerable at a population level and fortunately we've got the Omicron variant that is less dangerous - so suddenly we are seeing the balance has shifted," he said.
He said that by being cautious New Zealand had got the balance "just about right" through most of the pandemic.
"But there are trade-offs and some of them have been very bitter," he said.