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They went to India, now they’re stranded by coronavirus rules set 6,400 miles away

Updated:2024-05-16 08:51    Views:173

- Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/200820130424-melbourne-quarantine-hotel-rydges.jpg?q=x_2,y_0,h_1078,w_1915,c_crop/h_540,w_960" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/200820130424-melbourne-quarantine-hotel-rydges.jpg?q=x_2,y_0,h_1078,w_1915,c_crop/h_540,w_960" } }" data-vr-video="" data-show-html="" data-byline-html="" data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2020-08-20T05:17:18Z" data-video-section="world" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/08/20/australia-victoria-coronavirus-covid-19-investigation-quarantine-hotel-ripley-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="australia-victoria-coronavirus-covid-19-investigation-quarantine-hotel-ripley-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx" data-first-publish-slug="australia-victoria-coronavirus-covid-19-investigation-quarantine-hotel-ripley-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx" data-video-tags="australia,communicable disease control,continents and regions,epidemics and outbreaks,health and medical,isolation and quarantine,law and legal system,misc people,oceania,public health,will ripley" data-details=""> Rydges Video Ad Feedback How lax hotel quarantine helped unleash Australia's new outbreak 02:30 - Source: CNN Best of Travel 16 videos - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/200820130424-melbourne-quarantine-hotel-rydges.jpg?q=x_2,y_0,h_1078,w_1915,c_crop/h_540,w_960" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/200820130424-melbourne-quarantine-hotel-rydges.jpg?q=x_2,y_0,h_1078,w_1915,c_crop/h_540,w_960" } }" data-vr-video="" data-show-html="" data-byline-html="" data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2020-08-20T05:17:18Z" data-video-section="world" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/08/20/australia-victoria-coronavirus-covid-19-investigation-quarantine-hotel-ripley-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="australia-victoria-coronavirus-covid-19-investigation-quarantine-hotel-ripley-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx" data-first-publish-slug="australia-victoria-coronavirus-covid-19-investigation-quarantine-hotel-ripley-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx" data-video-tags="australia,communicable disease control,continents and regions,epidemics and outbreaks,health and medical,isolation and quarantine,law and legal system,misc people,oceania,public health,will ripley" data-details=""> Rydges Video Ad Feedback How lax hotel quarantine helped unleash Australia's new outbreak 02:30 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230815135955-australian-surfers-found.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230815135955-australian-surfers-found.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-08-15T14:41:25Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/08/15/missing-australian-surfers-found-indonesia-lon-orig-cw.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="missing australian surfers found indonesia lon orig cw" data-first-publish-slug="missing australian surfers found indonesia lon orig cw" data-video-tags="asia,australia,brand safety-nsf crime,brand safety-nsf sensitive,continents and regions,crime, law enforcement and corrections,iab-crime,iab-extreme sports,iab-sports,iab-surfing and bodyboarding,indonesia,missing persons,oceania,southeast asia,sports and recreation,surfing,water sports" data-details=""> Australian Surfers found Video Ad Feedback See the moment surfers are found after 38 hours lost at sea 00:43 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230814153143-rome-largo-argentina-julius-caesar-site.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230814153143-rome-largo-argentina-julius-caesar-site.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-08-15T02:50:33Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/08/15/rome-tourism-increase-julius-caesar-assassination-site-wedeman-pkg-nc-vpx.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="rome tourism increase julius caesar assassination site wedeman pkg nc vpx" data-first-publish-slug="rome tourism increase julius caesar assassination site wedeman pkg nc vpx" data-video-tags="argentina,assassinations,ben wedeman,brand safety-nsf health issues,brand safety-nsf sensitive,brand safety-nsf violence,brand safety-nsf war and military,continents and regions,coronavirus,diseases and disorders,domestic alerts,domestic-coronavirus,domestic-health and science,domestic-international news,europe,health and medical,iab-diseases and conditions,iab-infectious diseases,iab-lung and respiratory health,iab-medical health,iab-travel,iab-war and conflicts,infectious diseases,international alerts,international-coronavirus,international-health and science,italy,latin america,life forms,microscopic life,misc people,respiratory diseases,rome,south america,southern europe,the americas,tourism,travel and tourism,unrest, conflicts and war,viruses" data-details=""> rome largo argentina julius caesar site Video Ad Feedback Why this assassination site has become a tourism hotspot in Rome 02:06 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230803100816-dangerous-airport-03.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230803100816-dangerous-airport-03.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-08-03T14:15:27Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/08/03/most-dangerous-airport-lukla-nepal-cprog-orig-fj.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="most dangerous airport lukla nepal cprog orig fj" data-first-publish-slug="most dangerous airport lukla nepal cprog orig fj" data-video-tags="" data-details=""> Dangerous Airport 03 Video Ad Feedback Pilot explains what it's like to fly into the world's 'most dangerous' airport 01:52 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230720135917-another-tourist-defaces-colosseum.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230720135917-another-tourist-defaces-colosseum.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-07-20T14:41:55Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/07/20/rome-colosseum-tourist-graffiti-contd-lon-orig-mg.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="rome colosseum tourist graffiti contd lon orig mg" data-first-publish-slug="rome colosseum tourist graffiti contd lon orig mg" data-video-tags="iab-travel,tourism,travel and tourism" data-details=""> another tourist defaces colosseum Video Ad Feedback See moment tour guide catches teenager defacing ancient landmark 00:46 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230706104654-nude-beach-thumb-3.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230706104654-nude-beach-thumb-3.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-07-07T13:12:29Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/07/06/nude-beach-etiquette-newbies-contd-ff-mc-orig.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="nude beach etiquette newbies contd ff mc orig" data-first-publish-slug="nude beach etiquette newbies contd ff mc orig" data-video-tags="beaches,brand safety-nsf mature,brand safety-nsf sensitive,destinations and attractions,leisure and lifestyle,manners and etiquette,nudists and nudism,points of interest,society" data-details=""> Nude Beach Thumb 3 Video Ad Feedback Nudist explains what you should definitely not do at a nude beach 02:23 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230621161801-cheap-flight-packing-hacks-01.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230621161801-cheap-flight-packing-hacks-01.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-06-22T11:18:07Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/06/21/cheap-flight-packing-hacks-cprog-bu-orig.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="cheap flight packing hacks cprog bu orig" data-first-publish-slug="cheap flight packing hacks cprog bu orig" data-video-tags="" data-details=""> cheap flight packing hacks 01 Video Ad Feedback Woman attempts to get on plane with viral packing trick. See the result 01:44 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230705091855-05-msg-sphere-las-vegas.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230705091855-05-msg-sphere-las-vegas.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-07-06T14:32:16Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/07/06/msg-sphere-las-vegas-led-travel-contd-jo-orig.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="msg sphere las vegas led travel contd jo orig" data-first-publish-slug="msg sphere las vegas led travel contd jo orig" data-video-tags="business and industry sectors,business, economy and trade,chemical industry and chemicals,chemicals and environment,consumer electronics,consumer products,continents and regions,domestic alerts,domestic-business,domestic-health and science,electronics,environment and natural resources,food additives,food and drink,food products,iab-business and finance,iab-consumer electronics,iab-environment,iab-food & drink,iab-industries,iab-science,iab-technology & computing,iab-technology industry,international alerts,international-business,international-health and science,kinds of foods and beverages,las vegas,lead (metal and element),nevada,north america,southwestern united states,technology,televisions,the americas,toxic and hazardous substances,united states" data-details=""> The MSG Sphere illuminates the Las Vegas skyline with a display to celebrate Independence Day as the Exosphere is fully lit up for the first time, as seen from the Metropolis, on Tuesday, July 4, 2023. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) Video Ad Feedback It seats 18,000 and cost over $2B to build. See Vegas' new venue lighting up the skyline 00:54 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230214091239-chance-encounters-animation-card-1.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230214091239-chance-encounters-animation-card-1.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" Francesca Street " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-02-14T09:58:51Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/02/10/love-stories-traveling-chance-encounters-cprog-lon-orig.cnn" data-branding-key="chance-encounters" data-video-slug="love stories traveling chance encounters cprog lon orig" data-first-publish-slug="love stories traveling chance encounters cprog lon orig" data-video-tags="asia,business and industry sectors,business, economy and trade,california,continents and regions,ground transportation,himalayas,mountains (by name),nepal,north america,physical locations,private bus services,south asia,southwestern united states,the americas,transportation and warehousing,united states" data-details=""> chance encounters animation card 1 Video Ad Feedback Meet the couples who fell in love while traveling 04:50 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230126135125-seattle-hot-tub-boat-space-needle-amazon-starbucks-boeing-innovation-spc-00003801.png?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230126135125-seattle-hot-tub-boat-space-needle-amazon-starbucks-boeing-innovation-spc-00003801.png?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-01-26T20:02:32Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/01/26/seattle-hot-tub-boat-space-needle-amazon-starbucks-boeing-innovation-spc.cnn" data-branding-key="quests-world-of-wonder" data-video-slug="Seattle hot tub boat space needle amazon starbucks boeing innovation spc" data-first-publish-slug="Seattle hot tub boat space needle amazon starbucks boeing innovation spc" data-video-tags="celebrities,continents and regions,domestic alerts,domestic-entertainment,international alerts,international-entertainment,north america,northwestern united states,richard quest,seattle,the americas,united states,washington (state)" data-details=""> Seattle hot tub boat space needle amazon starbucks boeing innovation spc_00003801.png Video Ad Feedback This city has given us things we now can't live without 05:22 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230216122754-first-footage-titanic-lon-orig-1.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230216122754-first-footage-titanic-lon-orig-1.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-02-16T13:23:55Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/02/16/first-footage-titanic-wreck-1986-cprog-lon-orig-na.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="first footage titanic wreck 1986 cprog lon orig na" data-first-publish-slug="first footage titanic wreck 1986 cprog lon orig na" data-video-tags="" data-details=""> first footage titanic lon orig 1 Video Ad Feedback Video: First footage of the Titanic wreck released 01:05 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230131164947-boeing-747-dv-1.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230131164947-boeing-747-dv-1.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-01-31T17:08:30Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/01/31/boeing-747-history-contd-mxb-lon-orig.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="Boeing 747 history contd mxb lon orig" data-first-publish-slug="Boeing 747 history contd mxb lon orig" data-video-tags="aircraft,aviation and aerospace industry,boeing co,business and industry sectors,business, economy and trade,companies,domestic alerts,domestic-health and science,iab-aviation industry,iab-business and finance,iab-industries,iab-science,iab-space and astronomy,international alerts,international-health and science,space and astronomy,space industry,spacecraft and satellites" data-details=""> Boeing 747 DV 1 Video Ad Feedback Boeing 747: How the 'Queen of the Skies' redefined the way we fly 02:52 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230130110529-algerian-store-tz.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230130110529-algerian-store-tz.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-01-30T12:46:56Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/01/30/algerian-coffee-stores-london-intl-giokos-cprog-vpx.cnn" data-branding-key="global-connections" data-video-slug="algerian coffee stores london intl giokos cprog vpx" data-first-publish-slug="algerian coffee stores london intl giokos cprog vpx" data-video-tags="beverages,business and industry sectors,business, economy and trade,coffee,coffee and tea shops,consumer products,continents and regions,domestic alerts,domestic-international news,eleni giokos,england,europe,food and beverage industry,food and drink,iab-attractions,iab-bars & restaurants,iab-business and finance,iab-dining out,iab-food & drink,iab-food industry,iab-industries,iab-non-alcoholic beverages,kinds of foods and beverages,london,misc people,northern europe,restaurant and food service industry,restaurant industry,restaurants,united kingdom" data-details=""> algerian store tz Video Ad Feedback Why this London coffee shop attracts customers from around the world 02:58 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230116145202-yakutsk-russia-extreme-cold-lon-orig-na.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230116145202-yakutsk-russia-extreme-cold-lon-orig-na.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-01-16T15:24:04Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/01/16/yakutsk-russia-extreme-cold-contd-lon-orig-na.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="yakutsk russia extreme cold contd lon orig na" data-first-publish-slug="yakutsk russia extreme cold contd lon orig na" data-video-tags="companies,thomson reuters corp" data-details=""> yakutsk russia extreme cold lon orig na Video Ad Feedback See what life is like inside one of the world's coldest places 01:14 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230115180156-jfk-planes.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230115180156-jfk-planes.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html=" Newsroom " data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-01-15T23:49:01Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/01/15/jfk-airport-planes-close-call-schiavo-sot-vpx.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="jfk airport planes close call schiavo sot vpx" data-first-publish-slug="jfk airport planes close call schiavo sot vpx" data-video-tags="air transportation,aircraft,airports (by name),aviation and aerospace industry,business and industry sectors,business, economy and trade,commercial and general aviation aircraft,continents and regions,federal aviation administration,government organizations - us,iab-air travel,iab-aviation industry,iab-business and finance,iab-industries,iab-travel,iab-travel type,john f. kennedy international airport,misc people,new york (state),new york city,north america,northeastern united states,pamela brown,points of interest,the americas,transportation and warehousing,united states,us department of transportation,us federal departments and agencies" data-details=""> jfk planes Video Ad Feedback Radar animation shows near-miss between 2 passenger planes at JFK 01:45 Now playing - Source: CNN - Source: CNN " data-fave-thumbnails="{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230112170541-video-thumbnail-ostrich-egg-israel.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230112170541-video-thumbnail-ostrich-egg-israel.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }" data-vr-video="false" data-show-html="" data-byline-html=" " data-check-event-based-preview="" data-network-id="" data-publish-date="2023-01-13T16:17:32Z" data-video-section="travel" data-canonical-url="https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2023/01/12/prehistoric-ostrich-eggs-israel-cprog-lon-orig-tp.cnn" data-branding-key="" data-video-slug="prehistoric ostrich eggs israel cprog lon orig tp" data-first-publish-slug="prehistoric ostrich eggs israel cprog lon orig tp" data-video-tags="accidents, disasters and safety,anthropology and archeology,brand safety-nsf accidents and disasters,brand safety-nsf sensitive,continents and regions,fires,humanities and social sciences,israel,middle east,middle east and north africa" data-details=""> Lauren Davis, excavation manager of the southern district at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), shows discovered ostrich egg fragments dating over 4000 years old next to an ancient fire pit at a site in the dunes near Nitzana along the Israel-Egypt border in the western Negev desert on January 12, 2023. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP) (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images) Video Ad Feedback 4,000-year-old eggs discovered near ancient fire pit 00:47 Now playing - Source: CNN See More Videos CNN  — 

Priyam Saini and Anuj Dhir were living in different Australian cities when they met on an Indian matrimonial matchmaking site last June.

By February, they were married.

“I think when things are meant to be, they just happen quick,” says Dhir, a civil engineer.

A small civil service was held in New Delhi, in front of the couple’s families, and Dhir left soon after to start a new job. Saini, a psychologist, had planned to move from Brisbane to live with him in Sydney.

Five months later, she’s still in New Delhi.

“We had so many plans, and now we’re just waiting to see each other,” says Saini.

The couple has been separated by coronavirus rules in two countries. And they’re not alone.

Of 18,800 Australian citizens and visa holders overseas who have told the government they want to return, 7,500 are in India.

In recent months, diplomats have helped 8,000 people board 45 flights from India to Australia, according to a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

But some of the thousands of Australian citizens and visa holders still there say not enough is being done to help them get home. They’re angry, frustrated, and some are running out of money.

They blame limits Australia has imposed on international arrivals, which have halved the number of citizens and residents who are able to return home each week.

And they point to the government’s decision to allow 300 international students to return to Australia next month as proof that the country’s leaders have turned their backs on their own people.

Borders closed Priyam and Anuj met online in June and by February they were married. They planned to settle down in Sydney together to build a new life as a couple. Priyam and Anuj met online in June and by February they were married. They planned to settle down in Sydney together to build a new life as a couple.

Australia has imposed some of the world’s strictest border rules to stop the spread of the coronavirus. On March 18, it banned Australians from leaving the country. Two days later, it closed its borders to everyone who isn’t a citizen or a resident.

“We also strongly urge Australians looking to return home to do so as soon as possible,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the time. Those who couldn’t, or chose not to return, were advised to listen to local authorities.

The first wave of Australia’s coronavirus cases peaked in late March, and for a few months it seemed the country had succeeded in suppressing community transmission. But in early July cases started rising again and the government tightened caps on international arrivals.

Before caps were introduced, around 8,000 people were returning to Australia each week. Now, only 4,000 are allowed in. No more than 350 people can land in Sydney each day – and fewer than 75 in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

No international flights are allowed to land in Melbourne, the epicenter of the second wave. Airlines are bumping returning citizens and residents onto later flights or canceling them altogether to comply with the rules.

In early August, Australia’s national cabinet announced the caps would remain until October 24.

“Right now, on the balance of risk, we need to keep those caps where they are,” the Prime Minister said on Friday, adding that the caps would be reviewed every two weeks.

The government says the limits are needed to ease pressure on the hotel quarantine system. All incoming travelers are required to quarantine in hotels for 14 days.

While hotel quarantine has been shown to work well in some cities, it has been blamed for the recent surge in cases in the state of Victoria, prompting officials to reimpose a lockdown.

Almost 99% of Victoria’s second-wave cases are linked to two quarantine hotels in Melbourne, the state’s capital, officials told an inquiry into the outbreak.

Australians in India say they’re being made to suffer for the failures of one state’s quarantine system – and say that its success in other cities shows that the risks can be managed.

“People making mistakes within the country is costing people like us,” says Sameer Raichandani, who returned to India in June to be with his father as he underwent chemotherapy for leukemia.

He hopes to be back in Sydney for the birth of his second child in early November but is slowly losing hope.

Empty houses

Vinod Nagaraja and Sangeeta Kumar had just enough time to move boxes into their new home in Sydney in February before boarding a flight to India the next day to spend time with Kumar’s dying mother.

They planned to return on March 26, after the funeral, but their flight was canceled as India went into a strict lockdown that stretched until June. They’ve been trying to book flights from Kochi, in the state of Kerala, ever since, and have suitcases on standby should seats suddenly appear.

“Within a moment’s notice we can leave, but the problem is just not getting tickets,” Kumar says.

Vinod Nagaraja and Sangeeta Kumar bought their first home in Sydney before rushing to India to sees Kumar's ill mother. They planned to come back in March. Their new home has now been sitting empty for months. Vinod Nagaraja and Sangeeta Kumar bought their first home in Sydney before rushing to India to sees Kumar's ill mother. They planned to come back in March. Their new home has now been sitting empty for months. Courtesy Vinod Sangeeta

A number of flights scheduled to leave India in July were canceled due to the flight caps. Two flights departed India for Australia in early August – and then two more were scheduled for August 22 and 26.

A ripple of excitement ran through the Facebook group “Australians stuck in India,” where people have been sharing fraught stories about failed efforts to get home. On Twitter, High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell urged prospective passengers to monitor Air India’s website and social media account for the sale.

Saini, the newlywed, spent days in front of her laptop, waiting for the tickets to go online. When nothing appeared, she went to the Air India office in New Delhi to ask what was going on.

“I was just crying and crying because I got to know that tickets are already sold out, and we have no flights until October,” she says.

Air India said tickets for the two flights went to passengers who were bumped from previous flights – and even then, numbers were limited.

“The flights can carry only up to 45 passengers due to restrictions placed by Australian authorities,” an Air India spokesperson said.

No other airlines are allowed to fly from India to Australia, though India’s Minister for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri, said last week the two countries were negotiating to schedule more flights.

Just four flights from New Delhi to Australia were scheduled in August, due to carry a total of around 400 people, according to Australia’s High Commission in India and Air India.

DFAT says it’s continuing to “explore options” for Australians to board commercial flights.

“There are currently no plans for Australian Government-facilitated flights out of India,” a spokesperson said.

There are no India-Australia flights listed on India’s “Vande Bharat Mission” repatriation schedule, which covers dates until October 23.

Families split Mehul Patel's wife Vibha and daughter Aarya are stranded in Rajkot, Gujarat. Patel hasn't seen them in person since February and on Friday he missed his daughter's first birthday. Mehul Patel's wife Vibha and daughter Aarya are stranded in Rajkot, Gujarat. Patel hasn't seen them in person since February and on Friday he missed his daughter's first birthday. Courtesy Mehul Patel

Some are so desperate to get home they’re investigating charter flights.

Mehul Patel is trying to buy tickets for his wife and daughter who are stranded in Rajkot, Gujarat. He hasn’t seen them since February, when he took an earlier flight home to Melbourne. He missed his daughter’s first birthday on Friday and wants his family back.

Charter flights need permission from the Australian Border Force to land – and right now, none have been approved, Patel says.

For many, frustration turned to anger this month when the Australian government announced a pilot program to allow 300 international students to fly into Adelaide in September, to help prop up the struggling university sector.

The government insisted there would be no special charter flights.

“There’s no shortcut being granted to these international students who will come in this pilot,” Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “They’re going to have to run the gauntlet of airline unpredictability, like anybody else.”

Nevertheless, Australians stranded in India fear foreign students will take seats that might otherwise have been allocated to them.

Bryce Onions, an Australian taxi driver who is biding time in a two-star hotel near the airport in New Delhi, says the government should be doing more to help Australians stuck abroad.

“They’re not doing enough, nowhere near enough – it’s poor, it’s disgusting,” he says.

Onions left Australia before Christmas to spend time with friends in Darjeeling, West Bengal, and had planned to spend time in Egypt and Botswana before returning home. Those trips have been canceled.

“They’re saying, you know, to come home. After everything failed for me, I thought I’d go home, but then I couldn’t.”

Dwindling funds Robert Lepcha, his wife and daughter are staying with extended family in Sikkim, India. He's worried about having to travel to New Delhi -- a hotspot for Covid cases -- if they manage to find a flight. Robert Lepcha, his wife and daughter are staying with extended family in Sikkim, India. He's worried about having to travel to New Delhi -- a hotspot for Covid cases -- if they manage to find a flight. Courtesy Robert Lepcha

Some Australians trapped abroad fear they’re going to run out of money.

Robert Lepcha, his wife and their two-year-old daughter are stranded in Sikkim, in northeast India. The trio had planned to return to Australia in the new year, after visiting extended family.

Before he left, Lepcha was working as a security guard at a taxi rank in the upmarket coastal town of Byron Bay, in New South Wales. Now, there’s no job to go home to – even if he could find a flight.

“At the moment all I’m doing is basically trying to borrow money from friends and family in Australia. All my savings are gone.”

Even if he could find a flight from New Delhi, Lepcha is anxious about taking his wife and child to the Indian capital, a four-hour flight away.

“Delhi is a hotspot. I’m afraid of getting Covid-19 myself,” he says.

Of more than three million Covid-19 cases, more than 161,000 are in New Delhi, where there have been 4,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

On Friday, the Australian Prime Minister said the government was exploring ways to provide more help to Australians stranded overseas. Until then, for many, there’s no option but to wait.

The money Saini and Dhir saved for their honeymoon has been set aside for flight costs – if and when they can find one – and the 3,000 Australian dollar ($2,150) cost of quarantine.

Their relationship may have started as an online romance between two cities but being separated between two countries is “so much harder,” Dhir says.

“Back then, even though we were in a long-distance relationship, we had something to look forward to… Not knowing what the future holds, that’s really hard to deal with.”



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