Covid: Separated Australian families swap hugs at border on Father's Day

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Two people hug over a barricade as others watch onImage source, ABC
Image caption,
Australia celebrates Father's Day on the first Sunday in September

Australian families separated by state border closures have celebrated Father's Day with hugs and emotional greetings across barricades.

Queensland shut its border to neighbouring New South Wales (NSW) in July after a wave of Covid cases in Sydney.

Scenes on Sunday from Coolangatta, a border suburb, showed the emotional impact on families kept apart.

Dozens of people lined the boundary, which runs through the middle of town.

Police crews guarding the border didn't stop people from embracing but handed out masks to those gathered.

Local media showed images of mothers handing babies to fathers across the barrier, and many people leaning over for teary embraces.

People brought balloons, pets, food, drinks and even picnic chairs to settle in for a family catch-up.

Image source, ABC
Image caption,
Dozens of people lined the Queensland-NSW border
Image source, ABC

Australia celebrates Father's Day on the first Sunday in September.

One man from NSW said he had tears in his eyes upon seeing his infant daughter for the first time in weeks.

"She almost didn't recognise me when we first got there. I've only seen her through the phone on FaceTime," Bradley Church told The Australian newspaper.

His wife told the newspaper they were considering moving from Queensland to NSW because they didn't know how long the border would be closed.

States have frequently closed borders to suppress the virus during the pandemic.

Queensland has been criticised for rejecting applications from people wishing to enter for compassionate reasons, such as visiting sick relatives, though some exceptions have been made.

Media caption,

This family was initially banned from seeing their dying parent in Queensland

Its policy has been criticised for its impact on other people too, including those who need urgent medical care across the border.

But Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended her state's hard borders, noting they have worked to keep the virus out.

"Tonight people will go to their cafes, pubs and local restaurants," she said on Friday.

"Essentially Queensland is open. NSW has stay-at-home orders, Victoria has stay-at-home orders."

Many parts of New South Wales, including state capital Sydney, are in lockdown as case numbers top 1,200 a day.

Melbourne and Canberra are also in lockdown due to Delta variant outbreaks.

But Queensland - as well as another Covid-free state Western Australia - have pushed back at the national plan, saying they don't want to endanger their citizens.