An elderly couple from Evandale who flew to Melbourne for medical treatment have called on the government to make changes to the G2G system, describing the current process as inaccessible.
On October 4, Carol and Peter Merriman flew to Melbourne so Mr Merriman could undergo urgent spinal surgery.
The surgery, which cannot be performed in Tasmania, was due to take five days, however, after complications arose, the Merrimans were forced to remain in Victoria for an additional 10 days while Mr Merriman received further treatment.
While her husband was being treated at St Vincent's Private Hospital, Ms Merriman, alone in hotel quarantine, was trying to arrange the couple's documents to return to Launceston.
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By their own admission, both Mr and Mrs Merriman are technologically challenged, particularly when it comes to smartphones and the increasing reliance on apps to access services.
Ms Merriman said while she does have a mobile phone it didn't have internet capabilities, and even if it did she wouldn't understand how to access it.
For this reason, before leaving Tasmanian, the Merrimans visited the Launceston Library, and asked the staff to help arrange all the documents she would need for the week-long trip to Victoria.
"We were not convergent with technology at all," Mr Merriman said.
"The problem is elderly people, a lot of us can't download stuff on the phone and that is where all the problems for us came from.
"The library set us up, best they could with the initial G2G pass because we were going into a red zone and it was absolutely urgent that we got a pass to come home."
Mr Merriman said after his surgery was extended, the documents they had were invalid, and the couple were required to reapply for a new pass, but with Mr Merriman in hospital, the responsibility fell to his wife.
"I was in an apartment in lockdown and I could only go out for necessary food pickups and to do the washing, I couldn't even get in to see him, It was just a nightmare from word go," Mrs Merriman said.
Without a smartphone and unable to navigate the online web of documents required without the support she received from the library, Mrs Merriman said she was at a loss when it came to reapplying.
She said she made dozens of phone calls to various government agencies and service providers only to be handballed on and even hung up on.
"I even spent an hour and a quarter on the phone to Medicare because G2G wanted our immunisation forms and all we had was this little card from the doctors," she said.
"I rang Medicare and spoke to this gentleman for almost an hour and I said, could you please email me the documents, but he said he couldn't for privacy reasons.
"He told me he could post them to my home, and I told him that was no good because I was here in Melbourne.
Without access to the documents required, Mrs Merriman had several G2G applications denied, and when she called to explain she could not access the information required she was told to just download it.
Finally, after being talked through the application process by a friend over the phone the Merrimans successfully obtained a G2G pass to return to Tasmanian on October 28.
Unfortunately, once the Merrimans arrived at the airport on October 29 their ordeal went from bad to worse.
After initially being scheduled to fly direct to Launceston so they could return home and self isolate, their plane was struck by lightning and forced back to Melbourne.
The couple then boarded a flight to Hobart where a bus organised by the airline was waiting to take Northern residents directly to Launceston to begin their isolation.
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However, upon arriving in Hobart, the pair were told they would not be allowed to return to Launceston, the bus was sent away and Mr and Mrs Merriman were placed back into hotel quarantine.
Mrs Merriman said she tried to explain her husband's condition, providing staff at the airport a lengthy letter from his doctor, explaining his surgery and his need to quarantine at home, but was waived off.
The couple spent a sleepless night in a hotel adjacent to the airport, with Mr Merriman unable to eat any of the food provided.
Mrs Merriman tried to explain that her husband was unable to eat certain food due to his condition, but her pleas fell on deaf ears.
The next morning, after speaking to a government liaison officer, Mr and Mrs Merriman were placed on a bus and driven to Launceston to begin their home quarantine.
Mr Merriman said while he understood the need for the precautions, the hostility he and his wife were treated with at the airport was unnecessary.
"I know they've got a job to do, that's fine, but they could have a bit more empathy," he said.
Mrs Merriman said if it wasn't for her friend helping to walk her through the G2G process, she doesn't know how she would have obtained a pass to return.
Both said the government needed to reevaluate the process it had in place, to ensure those who struggled with technology still had access to pathways in and out of the state.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Robert Blackwood said travellers into Tasmania without access to smartphone apps such as the G2G pass would be provided with a document on arrival, with travellers required to demonstrate the necessary evidence.
"A manual travel form can be submitted on arrival," he said.
"It's important that travellers are aware of the requirements pre-departure."
Mr Blackwood said details were available on the COVID-19 website, and could be obtain by calling the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.
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