Separated By Covid, Australia's Travel Rules, Australian-UK Couple Marry After 20 Months Of Wait

Separated By Covid, Australia’s Travel Rules, Australian-UK Couple Marry After 20 Months Of Wait


Chris Quealy, a 70-year-old man from Australia’s Gold Coast and 60-year-old woman Penny Steven, from UK’s Amersham finally tied the knot after waiting for 20 months on Saturday in UK’s Buckinghamshire. This came after Quealy was granted a travel exemption by the Australian authorities earlier in August to travel to England to get married. The long wait for Chris and Penny was due to Australia’s stringent Covid-19 border rules.

The Australian government’s stringent border rules did not allow Australians to travel outside the country and also stopped people from entering the country – a rule recently modified – in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19. The Australian government, which is fighting record-levels of new cases, defends this policy saying it is necessary to break the chain of transmission.

Chris and Penny married in the UK’s Buckinghamshire last week and live streamed the entire event for members of Chris’ family. “We are now man and wife. It’s taken a long time and a lot of challenges but we are here – we did it, we did it, we did it,” Chris was quoted as saying by news agency BBC.

Penny and Chris met in 2015 in Spain. These two travelled thousands of miles every year to meet each other. The lockdown in March 2020 delayed their plans of marrying and also prevented Chris from travelling further. During the last two years, Chris and Penny said that they spoke twice on the phone daily.

“It has made us stronger,” Penny told the BBC while highlighting that these months were hard for both her and Chris.

Australia’s stringent travel rules have recently come into focus once again as Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic fights his deportation at an Australian court. Djokovic, who is in Australia to defend his title in the upcoming Australian open, was stopped from entering Australia after officials said that Djokovic was unvaccinated and alleged that he did not have medical evidence to back his decision to not vaccinate.

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