Kerre McIvor: Why I have no sympathy for the Wiggles

A week before Christmas, Singapore Airlines cancelled all its flights from the United Kingdom.

The UK variant of the Covid strain was giving the world the heebie jeebies and residents of the UK were rapidly becoming personae non grata around the world.

Singapore Airlines decided it didn’t want UK Covid cooties on their jet aeroplanes.

They said they were sorry but flights were suspended til further notice. They were happy to refund the price of the tickets and promised that they would resume flights as soon as they felt the situation was under control.

All well and good, but that left my London-based family high and dry. They’d been planning a return to New Zealand once the children reached school age so they weren’t Covid refugees per se – the worsening situation in the UK simply underscored they’d made the right decision to return home.

They’d booked their flights with Singapore, and booked their MIQ places – now they were pretty much stuffed.

My son-in-law had resigned his job, the family had booked movers, they’d given up the lease on their home, and because their visas were linked to the job, they would, in effect, be in the UK illegally beyond a certain date.

It wasn’t the flights that was the problem. Emirates and Qatar were still flying but the sticking point was that they couldn’t get another place in MIQ. They were told it would be the end of March before a spot became available.

It was very stressful for the whole extended family. We all took turns refreshing the browser on the MIQ website hoping against hope that a spot would suddenly appear. And then, on Christmas Eve, miracle of miracles … Kate saw a vacancy, grabbed it, booked the flights and they basically scrambled to make an Emirates flight five days later.

They’re here now and very happy to be so. They appreciated the professional efforts of the MIQ staff and thoroughly enjoyed their quarantine experience. But the logistics involved in booking spots is incredibly stressful for people who need to travel. Getting a spot really is like winning Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket and many Kiwis are stranded overseas, without jobs, visas or homes, because, through no fault of their own, their flights were cancelled and thus their quarantine spots became redundant.

Which is why I have absolutely no sympathy for the bloody Wiggles.

The phenomenally popular Australian group, whose fan base comprises the 5-and-unders, had booked a 25-date tour of this country at the first sniff of a transtasman bubble. Forty-thousand tickets were snapped up immediately and New Zealand families began to count the sleeps before they could be doing the Hot Potato with their idols.

And then it emerged that the Wiggles, or rather their management team, hadn’t booked their isolation vouchers. Ooops. Now they’re relying on the fact that they’re the cutest little kids song-and-dance group in the whole wide world to bypass protocol.

If the Wiggles are granted dispensation and considered critical workers I will be seething.Not because I have anything against them, but because Covid was supposed to be the great leveller. That we were all in this together and that you can’t buy your way into New Zealand.

If Emma Wiggle and the rest of her merry band of troubadours want to get into the country, they can jolly well sit at a computer for days on end clicking refresh on the browser, hoping against hope that a quarantine slot will come up – just like every other stranded Kiwi is doing all around the world.

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