A New Zealand mother is desperately applying for a travel exemption to bring her young daughter home, saying she is living 'her worst nightmare.'
Megan Dalbeth has been separated from her daughter for five weeks due to strict border closures in New Zealand, leaving her over 760km from her home in Christchurch.
Four-year-old Hailey had been visiting her father in Auckland when the country was plunged into a snap lockdown.
However, despite applying for several travel exemptions, Megan Dalbeth hasn't been approved to fly to Auckland to collect her daughter and bring her home.
"Her visit was only supposed to be temporary," she explained to Yahoo News Australia, adding she was meant to collect Hailey when lockdown began.
"It's taken a huge toll on my mental health not knowing when I get to see her again."
Multiple applications for travel exemptions declined
Although there was a 72-hour grace period allowing residents to get home, Ms Dalbeth said that flights were being cancelled and she was concerned about potentially exposing Hailey to the virus.
"We wanted to keep her as safe as possible. I was working through level 4, so keeping her up there for an extra week with them sounded like the best thing for her.
"We seriously underestimated the length of the lockdown and we had assumed it would be easy to get her home.
"We have never been apart for longer than two weeks."
Ms Dalbeth added that there is extra pressure to bring Hailey home as soon as possible, as her father's new partner is expecting a baby soon and they weren't prepared to have Hailey, in addition to their four-year-old daughter, in the house when the baby arrives.
"I applied for an exemption last Wednesday [September) 8], it was declined on that Friday," Ms Dalbeth said, adding her most recent application was denied on Wednesday, September 15 due to it not being classified as essential travel.
"She flew to Auckland on the 11th of August, it has been five weeks now.
"That was okay as we knew when we would be reunited. I have full day-to-day care of our daughter, have done all her life.
"We did think it would be far quicker than this, and the more it dragged on the more upset I have been about not taking the risk to get her when I could have."
Ms Dalbeth said she has tried different ways to bring her daughter home, including flying to a neighbouring town with no success.
"Everyone points us back to the Ministry of Health," she explained.
"When I call them with my questions, they say, 'we're the call centre, we can tell you that, we don't have the answers' and there's no one to put you through to get the right answers."
The mother also said the exemption forms don't leave enough room to properly explain her situation, making it more difficult.
"This is really stressful for the both of us," she said. "It's affecting me so much."
New Zealand records 14 new Covid cases
Auckland is in its fifth week in lockdown, with 14 cases reported on Wednesday, all in Auckland. That number is down from 15 on Tuesday and 33 on Monday.
Auckland's lockdown has been extended until September, 21. After that, Auckland will move from level 4 to level 3.
The rest of New Zealand, including Christchurch, is at level 2 restrictions.
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