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Collapse Issue 491:<br />30 Mar 2020<br />_____________Issue 491:
30 Mar 2020
Collapse  NEWS NEWS
Beachgoer increase sees 52 rescues at Umina Beach
Fishing operators say they struggle to stay viable
Peninsula fuel 50 per cent higher with crude price drop
Early end to patrols, but beaches remain open
'Character statement' may be developed for Council ward
'Resilience plan writes itself' as needs arise
Rotary president returns to home confinement
New York trip turns to nightmare
Leisure centre and theatre close as council cuts services
Bays Fair won't be held until next year
Italian festival postponed
Rotary club cancels Opera in the Arboretum
Information on government website
Chamber joins in buy-local campaign
Wicks urges residents to remain calm
Council forecasts $32.5 million deficit before virus costs
Council elections postponed 12 months
Council to tender for after hours call service
The dire trend of planning approvals on the Peninsula
Toilet condition appalling
When the Peninsula relied on bore water
Offers to share toilet paper
Health District 'as prepared as humanly possible'
Public health service cancels non-urgent surgery
Private hospital offers surgery to 'relieve load'
Woy Woy Hospital changes visiting hours
Collapse  ARTS ARTS
Photographers and artists wanted by arboretum group
Art prize winners announced
Benefit concert postponed
Folk club cancels March concert
Theatre group reschedules plays to next year
College campuses transition to online learning
Teachers are designing activities for home learning
School adopts Batlow as 'bushfire buddy'
Schoolwork prepared for online learning
Students take part in photography workshop
Events cancelled, postponed and proceeding
Umina launches Learning at Home portal
School attendance drops to 15 per cent
School subscribes to online learning programs
Southern Spirit declared runners-up after washout
Women's sevens final played at Woy Woy
Netball association may face tough decisions
Woy Woy Lions activities postponed at least until May
Soccer players wait for news about season's future
Swans season deferred

New York trip turns to nightmare

For Michelle Kinnane of Pearl Beach, a trip to visit her new grandson in New York turned into a nightmare.

"My son has been living in New York for six or seven years and runs a company in Manhattan," Ms Kinnane said.

"With he and his wife expecting a baby, I booked ages ago to take a trip there at the beginning of March.

"When I flew out on March 9, the situation wasn't too bad but the day after I landed things started to go haywire.

"New York quickly became a ghost town and my son had to close down his office and every day the news became more stressful.

"As it became clear I needed to return home, my son and his wife, both Australians, had to make the decision whether to stay in New York or come home with me.

"There was a lot to consider with a company and a dog to think about, but with the state of medical support in the States, they decided they needed to come back to Australia with me.

"I was glad I was there because without me to help with the baby and meals, they couldn't have organised all they needed to in three or four days.

"Then came news the borders would soon close.

"We didn't know if it was real news or fake news, but I felt very panicked.

"As soon as the baby's passport came through, we were on a plane on March 19.

"The flight home was full of Australians leaving everything behind like my son did.

"It was very distressing once we landed because not everyone had got the message that only Australian residents would be allowed back in and people were being forced to go back to the countries they had come from.

"When we arrived back in Australia on March 21, it looked like everything was going on as normal and that disturbed us, but of course, things have changed again since then."

Mrs Kinnane is now in isolation at home, with son Adam, daughter in law Leilaini, and grandson River in isolation at a separate Pearl Beach home.

"We keep in contact via video - I am just so thrilled they are here," Mrs Kinnane said.

"It's strange to think that if things had been normal I would have been in Miami now and wouldn't have been back for another week."

For Steve Cummings and wife Penny Howard of Umina, a South American dream trip was cut short.

Leaving on March 4 for a month-long trip, the pair had "no second thoughts" about flying out.

"We knew there was a virus but at that stage it seemed like a bad flu which was largely restricted to China," Mr Cummings said.

"We thought South America would be safe."

The pair spent the first 10 days in Bolivia, enjoying the local sights and expecting to cross into Argentina and then go on to Buenos Aires, Rio, and Uruguay for a home stay.

But on March 15 at 5am, they got the news that their tour was cancelling the Buenos Aires trip with border crossings an unknown and were given the choice to abandon the tour, which they decided to do.

"We were the only two to leave the tour but we knew there was an airport in Uyuni.It was a known quantity and we heard flights in and out of Argentina were already being cancelled," Mr Cummings said.

With difficulty getting on to airline Latam, the couple had their son book and pay for a flight for them to La Paz, where they stayed for four days before finally flying home.

"The first couple of days in La Paz were vibrant," Mr Cummings said.

"On the Monday morning, we took the cable car to the airline office and they were great and were able to change our flights home to the Thursday.

"The streets were alive with colour and movement but on the Tuesday night we noticed everyone packing up early.

"When we got back to the hotel, it was blocked off with a grille and we had trouble getting back in - we hadn't realised a curfew had been introduced that day.

"On Wednesday, the streets were quiet and we were sitting in our hotel room by 5pm, with the TV on to provide a bit of background noise."

On Thursday, March 19, the couple flew out of La Paz for Santiago, where they had a 13-hour layover before their flight to Australia left.

"We were tense the whole time we were laid over," Mr Cummings said.

"Some flights were cancelled and we later heard that two flights after ours were also cancelled - we were so relieved to get on board."

The couple finally got home to Sydney on March 21.

"We stayed in touch with others on our tour from various countries and discovered they were also affected by the lockdowns, but they have all managed to get home safely, thank goodness."

Now in isolation at their Umina home, the couple is relieved to be back on Australian soil.

"We are grateful we had 10 days in Bolivia and managed to experience the Bolivian Salt Flats and the marvellous culture and it was just gorgeous but sitting at home is a great place to be," Mr Cummings said.

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