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Family forced to delay funeral so sister can avoid lonely farewell

The application process was a battle, he said, as his sister and her partner, Fiona Barnett, had to fly to Brisbane on September 9 before taking a second flight to Mackay.

“We understand borders are in place for a reason but compassion needs to be used,” Mr McFaul said.

Sandra McFaul sits out her quarantine period in the Ibis Mackay Hotel.

Sandra McFaul sits out her quarantine period in the Ibis Mackay Hotel.

The couple are now in quarantine in the Ibis Mackay Hotel for two weeks, forcing the family to push the September 19 funeral back to September 24 so Ms McFaul has time to say goodbye to her father.

Ms McFaul wept as she told Brisbane Times the process had been excruciating and added an extra layer of grief.

“It’s so slow, and you get a template response from Queensland Health,” she said.

“The nightmare continues.”

Ms Barnett said they pushed to leave quarantine two days earlier for the initial funeral date but changed their minds after seeing the story of Sarah Caisip, who was refused permission to leave quarantine in Brisbane to attend her father’s funeral this week and instead had to later say goodbye to him alone wearing full protective equipment.

“We saw the lack of compassion and consideration to just a normal punter so we’ve asked to change the funeral date to the 24th to be able to attend and hold our family and grieve together,” she said.

“We’ve given up.

“It would be even more distressing for us to be in PPE, go out to the cemetery and not be allowed to go to the wake or touch family members.”

Ms Barnett said there needed to be improvements in the application process as well as a clear definition of a hotspot.

“We come from Annandale, where there have been no COVID-19 cases. There needs to be sound medical advice on what constitutes a hotspot,” she said.

On Friday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk pledged to boost the number of staff needed to deal with border exemption applications.

The state currently has 80 officials to grant or deny exemption applications from people seeking to travel from interstate COVID-19 hotspots.

Fighting back tears at Friday’s press conference, Ms Palaszczuk said: “I’m human, just like everyone else. These issues hurt me deeply.

“They hurt me deeply because during this pandemic I have lost loved ones as well. I know exactly what people are going through.”

Labor MP Duncan Pegg dances to celebrate his birthday in July.

Labor MP Duncan Pegg dances to celebrate his birthday in July.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington called on Ms Palaszczuk to be consistent in her decisions, and to show compassion and common sense.

“The stories we have heard in the last couple of days have been heartbreaking,” she said. “In fact, there have been heartbreaking stories the whole way through this global pandemic.”

Photos emerged overnight of state Labor MP Duncan Pegg belly dancing on a dance floor for his birthday in July.

Ms Frecklington said the Premier’s inconsistencies were “galling”, “when you see a Labor MP belly dancing but yet a mum can’t go to her son’s funeral”.

“It’s particularly galling for all the Year 12 students across Queensland who can dress up, go to their formal and can’t dance, yet a Labor MP can belly dance.

“At the end of the day, the buck stops at the Premier,” she said.

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