Monday, April 22, 2024

Mum’s baby joy tinged with sadness over Covid travel restrictions

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Cockle Bay woman Pia Rampling was hoping her Australia-based mother would be with her for the birth of baby Imogen. Photo supplied

Pia Rampling is overjoyed to welcome the newest member of her family, but when her baby will be able to meet her grandparents is anyone’s guess.

The Cockle Bay woman gave birth to baby Imogen on January 30.

Rampling was hoping her Australia-based mother would be able to travel to Auckland to help her and her husband following the birth.

That sadly did not happen due to New Zealand’s borders being closed as part of Covid-19 restrictions.

“We’re doing well but unfortunately for me and thousands of others, reuniting with family has moved from May 1 to ‘July’, whether it’s the start or end [of July] is unclear, as is whether that date will change again,” she says.

“Our daughter will be almost six months old by then.”

Rampling is an Australian citizen who’s lived in New Zealand for nine years.

Her husband is a New Zealand citizen while her parents hold Australian passports and live in Australia.

Her mother “desperately” tried to book a space in mandatory isolation and quarantine (MIQ) in this country so she could travel here for Imogen’s birth but was unable to obtain one.

Rampling is part of a group of Kiwis backing a petition that asks the Government to allow overseas-based parents of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to enter the country.

Under previous rules, Australian citizens weren’t allowed to enter New Zealand until May 1 under the ‘general tourist and foreign national’ category.

In the days before giving birth, Rampling told the Times she felt “devastated” her mother wouldn’t be with her for Imogen’s arrival.

“They [her parents] haven’t seen our first-born in-person in over two years.

“This is huge to miss more than 50 per cent of their first grandchild’s life.

“I always try to keep this in perspective.

“We’re in a pandemic and these are difficult times for everybody and it’s definitely not lost on me that many others have missed out on saying final goodbyes, [attending] funerals, and also births and marriages.

“I do get it. It doesn’t make it any easier, not being able to see family face-to-face or to have their support at such a critical point in our lives though.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently announced when New Zealand’s border will reopen to the world.

She says fully vaccinated Kiwis and other currently eligible travellers from Australia will be able to travel here from 11.59pm on February 27.

They’ll be able to self-isolate instead of going into MIQ.

Two weeks later fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers from the rest of the world will be able to travel to New Zealand without going through MIQ, Ardern says.

At 11.59pm on April 12 the border will reopen to a cohort of international students and temporary visa holders.

Step four will see entry by Australians, “all other visitors and business travellers who can normally enter New Zealand without a visa”.

Ardern says that step will happen no later than July.

More from Times Online


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