A New Zealand woman is dumbfounded at Government officials for not allowing her 7-month-old baby to join her in managed isolation and quarantine.
An unfortunate set of circumstances will see Nicole Saunders arrive home from Australia tomorrow and go into MIQ without baby Jaxson.
Speaking from Australia, Saunders said: "I don't understand how they can make the choice of separating a baby from his mother."
Because Jaxson is already in New Zealand with his father, Nicole Saunders said MIQ officials have told her it is too much of a risk for her to be joined by her baby.
In an email to her, officials said for any individual to join a person in isolation, the person in isolation must be a minor or a vulnerable person.
"In this scenario Jaxson would not be classed as a support person for anyone in isolation and therefore would not be able to join," officials said.
She said an official contacted her again today for clarification on travel dates, but told her the request to be joined in isolation by her baby is likely to be declined.
Nicole Saunders said her husband left Australia on January 12 with two children from a previous marriage who live in New Zealand and came to visit for the school holidays, plus Jaxson, with plans to return on January 29.
Due to the suspension of the "travel bubble" by the Australian Government, Brendan Saunders' return flight was cancelled or postponed several times until February 9.
The plan was for Nicole to manage the Kiwi couple's dairy farm at Maffra in rural Victoria and take a turn crossing the Tasman with Jaxson after Brendan returned home.
"It now means my husband can't return with our son before my departure date," she said.
Saunders said she had considered staying in Australia, but as she was pregnant again and had not been home for a year this was her only chance to see her family for the foreseeable future.
She said she and her baby have a space booked in MIQ for 14 days and to leave a 7-month-old baby with family, who are essentially strangers, is not appropriate.
"He has already got a space in isolation. The only difference is that because of the Transtasman bubble he is no longer travelling with me, he is already in New Zealand.
"I don't see what the scenario difference is. Either way he would have been coming with me into isolation.
"At the end of the day I'm his legal guardian. I'm his mother. He should be with me if that is what I decide," Nicole Saunders said.
She said officials should not determine the risk associated with her baby.
"For me, the risk of him having mental trauma and issues being separated from his mother for long far outweighs the risk of him possibly catching Covid.
"I'm coming from Victoria, which has had no cases for how long?
"If they are so concerned of him catching Covid in isolation that just shows they don't really have lots of faith in their own procedures," Saunders said.
MIQ wouldn't speak about this case without a privacy waiver.
A spokesperson said people could only apply for an exemption to enter managed isolation if they were joining a child under 18 or to support the health and wellbeing of someone in managed isolation.
"For those who have applied for an exemption, they are required to adhere to the same rules, regulations and protocols as other returnees during their time in managed isolation. They also need to be aware of the potential for COVID-19 infection."
The spokesperson said anyone whose request for an exemption has been declined is welcome to request a review of the decision.