The Project host Carrie Bickmore couldn’t hide her frustration over the strict new lockdown measures some Sydneysiders are having to endure during Wednesday’s episode of the program.
Essential workers in the Fairfield local government area – currently the epicentre of Sydney’s virus outbreak – must now undergo mandatory Covid testing every three days. The tough new measure has meant chaos at testing centres in the area, with exhausted workers queueing for up to six hours and sometimes being turned away without obtaining a test.
After hearing from workers trying to navigate this new requirement, the Project panel spoke to Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone, who called the new rule “unfair” and begged for more resources to help Fairfield’s residents get tested more easily.
“Our residents work long shifts – for them to have to go and line up six hours to get tested, it’s not on, and we’re not going to cop it,” he said.
Bickmore vented about the new rule on-air after the interview.
“You know, you often hear about the worst of people in these times – the ones that have the illegal parties, the ones that aren’t forthcoming with information,” she began.
“Then you see those queues: People that have worked a full day, have families waiting for them at home, it’s nighttime, they wait for six hours – only to not even get in, go home, three hours later turn around and go to work… They’re doing that to do the right thing and to be good citizens. And to do it for other people! That is the good. I was amazed when I saw that this morning.”
Australia’s overseas arrivals problem
Elsewhere on Wednesday night’s episode of The Project, the panellists discussed how Australians are feeling like they are not being looked after by their country during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Specifically, how expensive and difficult it is to fly into Australia, for residents to return home.
“As of today, the number of weekly international flight arrivals have been halved, leaving citizens who are stranded abroad feeling more abandoned than ever,” said Bickmore.
“Overseas arrivals have been cut from 6000 to 3000 a week in a bid to reduce pressure on hotel quarantine,” added Waleed Aly.
“35,000 Aussies have registered with foreign affairs as being stuck overseas and wanting to return home.”
One guest on the show, Kathy, is six months pregnant and booked to have her baby in a New South Wales hospital.
“It is just heartbreaking to feel that you are not wanted in your own country,” she said, extremely emotional.
Cristina Williams, another Australian trying to get home, described it as “the most exhausting and emotionally draining, financially taxing year of our lives.”
“As of today flights into Sydney can only carry a maximum of 126 passengers. For Melbourne, it is down to 13. 10 for Perth and just six for Brisbane. Under the new caps some airlines aren’t even allowed passengers so they have to rely on carrying cargo and outbound travellers to make money. It is no wonder that fares have increased. One economy flight from London to Sydney cost $36,000,” Waleed continued.
“Gosh, it has been such a stressful time for so many people. I think that is a really interesting point about Australia feeling like the perfect place to be at a certain time during this pandemic and now it really does feel like we are falling behind. Don’t you guys feel that way?” added Rachel Corbett.
“Absolutely,” agreed Carrie.
“I feel like the rest of the world is getting on with things. People are 8 per cent vaccinated in other countries and we are still under 10 per cent. It feels like life will take a long time to go back to normal. At the beginning of things you wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else in the whole world but here,” continued Rachel.