When Aimee Chadzynski bundled into her seat on a Perth-bound Emirates flight this week, she cried.
After weeks of stress and upheaval, she and her husband were finally on their way back to Australia.
The couple had moved to the United Kingdom on a work transfer 13 months ago. Their intention was to remain for two years, maybe three. Then the SARS-CoV-2 virus leeched its way across the globe.
Aimee lives with severe asthma and Type 2 Diabetes, which places her at high risk of serious illness should she develop a COVID-19 infection. Heeding the advice of her medical practitioners, as well as that of both the British and Australian governments, she had remained indoors, confined entirely to her London apartment for 17 weeks.
With cases still gripping the UK, her job as secondary-school teacher was no longer viable long term. Australia's relatively low caseload offered safety, and with people at airports by then likely to have been in lockdown, there was a window of opportunity.
Yet as Aimee made the difficult decision to uproot her life, she listened to the words of Australia's leaders, scrolled through press and social media, and it was clear: in the eyes of many of her own countrymen, she — and others like her — aren't welcome back.