‘You can’t come in to work for two weeks’

I NEVER thought coronavirus would impact me.

Travelling through India, Nepal and Singapore over the past three weeks, the pandemic felt like a distant concern.

I was waiting for my flight back to Brisbane from Singapore on Sunday when that all changed.

"You can't come back in to work for two weeks," my boss messaged me.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison that morning announced all international arrivals into Australia would have to self-isolate for two weeks.

Well, I thought, here we go.

At the boarding gate later that night the mood could only be described as bizarre. People were frantically phoning friends and relatives trying to work out the logistics of isolation, while others were cracking jokes.

Journalist Tobi Loftus is in home isolation with his parents Mike and Tina at Peregian Springs. Picture: Bruce Long
Journalist Tobi Loftus is in home isolation with his parents Mike and Tina at Peregian Springs. Picture: Bruce Long


Upon reaching Brisbane, one of the first flights into the airport after the isolation rules came into play, we weren't allowed off the plane until quarantine officers came on board and gave the A-OK.

After clearing one of the longest immigration lines I have experienced at Brisbane Airport after the introduction of the e-visa gates, Queensland Health officials asked all passengers questions about their travel history, how we were feeling and where we'd be located during isolation.

From there the day got even more frustrating. I had booked a seat on a bus to take me back to Toowoomba, but when the bus pulled into the station the driver informed all the passengers waiting that we couldn't board as we didn't have face masks. We were stranded, as the airport had sold out of masks weeks ago.



Thankfully, a couple also heading back to Toowoomba decided to hire a car and I hitched a ride with them. I wonder how many more regional Queenslanders will be left in the same predicament.

I collected some extra clothes, went through the coronavirus drive-through testing facility at Toowoomba's Baillie Henderson Hospital (as I have a few flu-like symptoms) and from there headed to the Sunshine Coast, where I am spending my isolation at my parents' home.

The next two weeks are going to be interesting, to say the least.

I'm fortunate enough to be able to continue to work while in isolation, but being trapped in the one place for so long is going to be testing.

To all in the same boat, as a customs officer said to me as I walked out of the airport, happy isolation!