Sydney father Michael Agamalis burst into tears last night when he knew for certain he would not be reunited in Auckland for his twin boys' second birthday.
The 31-year-old father's flight from Sydney was supposed to touch down in Auckland yesterday afternoon but with greater Sydney's lockdown extended until July 9 that was officially scrapped.
Agamalis said it was particularly tough to miss his boys' birthday on July 2 after a year apart.
"It's very crushing I don't get to see my kids for their birthday," Agamalis said.
"My heart just had this sinking feeling, my heart dropped. It was crushing, I went straight to tears"
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday announced harsher lockdown restrictions for New South Wales as infections in the state increased to 82 cases. The state recorded 29 new community Covid infections that day.
Air NZ subsequently cancelled most of its flights between Sydney and New Zealand.
Yet when Australia and New Zealand's travel bubble was first announced in April, Agamalis and the mother of his twins, Jasmine Joyce, immediately booked flights for him to travel to Auckland at the end of June.
He was going to spend a month with his boys Adonis and Phoenix, and had promised them he would never miss a birthday.
Even though Agamalis doesn't live in a "Covid hotspot" he still did everything he could to ensure he would not catch the virus.
"I did everything in my power to stay away from anybody which could be a potential risk," he said.
Based in Westmead in Sydney's greater west the suburb Agamalis lives in will enter lockdown tonight.
"Everything was set in concrete and then out of nowhere all this just started happening," Agamalis said of the lockdown.
"It's very terrible that I have to miss out on that but I do understand."
From 6pm today, all of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong will go into lockdown until midnight on July 9.
"It's really taken an impact on me because now I am going to have to spend my kids' birthday on a video phone call."
But a video call isn't the same as being there in person, Agamalis says.
"It really sucks because they're building a relationship between me on the phone and not in person."
Being their second birthday and the first time they would be reunited with their dad for nearly a year, a big party was planned alongside other events including a trip to the aquarium.
The timing of Agamalis' trip would also mean together he and Joyce could transition the toddlers into daycare.
Fortunately, Agamalis' flights were able to be moved with no extra charge and he hopes to return to Auckland in July depending on the travel bubble and Sydney's Covid-19 situation.
"It gave me some light at the end of a very dark tunnel," he said.
Over the next 10 days, one Air New Zealand flight will leave Auckland for Sydney, with the return flights to Auckland operating as cargo-only services.
All direct services to Sydney from Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown have been cancelled.