The grieving daughter banned from her dad’s Queensland funeral has broken down live on air as she described being forced to farewell him for the last time wearing scrubs and a COVID-19 face mask.
Sarah Caisip, 26, was given a special coronavirus quarantine exemption to view his coffin after the Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the Queensland premier on Thursday demanding action.
She’s now revealed she could see her mother and 11-year-old sister from afar as she was brought to the funeral home under police escort but tried not to look at them so she wouldn’t burst into tears.
“It was just like a wave from afar which was really hard so I tried not to look at them and not break down in the process,’’ she told 4BC radio.
“I’m doing the best I can. It was really strange. Saying goodbye, I couldn’t even get support from my mother and sister.
“I got to see dad and that was better than nothing so I really appreciate everyone’s support and kind message through this whole thing.”
Her aunt Jane also told 4BC’s Neil Breen that Sarah’s mum and sister remained devastated that she could not attend the funeral.
“What about her mum and her sister standing there, 20 minutes after the funeral and Sarah is brought in, there are police officers and army people, and she’s dressed in a Hazmat suit, what were you thinking when you saw her?” Breen asked.
“That was pretty upsetting, it was quite distressing to see that,” Jane replied.
“What did her mum say?” Breen asked.
“She was too upset to say much at all and her sister was very distressed.”
Health officials insisted Ms Caisip could not attend the service because she has not completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
News.com.au understands she was granted an exemption to attend the funeral, but only if it was delayed until she has completed her quarantine.
The heartbreaking images have sparked a national controversy with the Prime Minister moved to tears by the decision this week.
“It’s just one day I had hoped that something different could be done,” Mr Morrison told Sky News.
“There’s been some shocking days during the course of this pandemic, and today just hurt.
“At least, I’m glad she got to say one last farewell to her father, Bernard, I’m pleased she was able to do that. But gee, I wish she was able to give her mum and her sister a hug.
“We ask our police officers to do some hard things. Can you imagine being one of those police officers today, with Sarah? Honestly.”
Ms Caisip said she was grateful and surprised by the PM’s decision to call her to offer his support.
“I was quite shocked. I thought this must be a joke. It was the Prime Minister, I was shocked and I didn’t know what to say,’’ she said.
As soon as she gets released from quarantine, Ms Caisip said she was looking forward to spending time with her mum and little sister.
“I’ll stay with them and that time with them as per dad’s request,” she said.
“Whether requested or not I was always going to be here with them when it all happened anyway.
“I was quite shocked and I’m really pleased that people are sympathetic to my situation really because I’ve had a lot of negative comments on social media.”
But the Queensland bureaucrats attacked as ‘heartless’ for refusing permission for Sarah Caisip to attend her own father’s funeral have revealed they have approved exemptions for 232 relatives to attend services – including Ms Caisip – in the last fortnight.
Applicants are required to complete a 14-day quarantine before attending a funeral, forcing many families to delay the service.
It’s not known if the option of delaying Ms Caisip’s father’s funeral was an option for the family or if they believed her application would be approved and continued planning on that basis.
It’s understood Ms Caisip had entered Queensland to spend time with her dad twice in July but that was before the state declared Canberra, where she lives, a COVID-19 hotspot because it has open borders into NSW.
Canberra has remained COVID-10 free for more than 60 days. The decision to declare Canberra a hotspot forced Ms Caisip to enter into hotel quarantine for her third and final visit to see her dad.
Another man, Mark Keans, 39, who is dying of cancer in a Brisbane hospital, has been told by Queensland health authorities that his family would have to choose which one of his four children who live across the border in New South Wales can visit him.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has distanced herself from the heartbreaking decisions on Friday insisting “I don’t make those decisions.”
Pleading for understanding for the health officials making tough decisions, Ms Palaszczuk it was “not nice” but the simple fact was the world was fighting a deadly virus.
“We’re in a global pandemic and my job is to keep Queenslanders safe. That’s my job. My job is to keep five million Queenslanders safe,’’ she said.
“It is absolutely heartbreaking. Everyone, anyone who would’ve seen those images is heart broken,’’ she said.
“Everyone is human. You know. We’re in a global pandemic at the moment. It is tough on everyone. And let me make it very clear, I don’t make those decisions. I said to the Prime Minister, I would refer it to the chief health officer and I did that.”
The furore followed Ms Caisip writing a heartbreaking letter to the Queensland Premier accusing her of “destroying my life.”
“My dad is dead and you made me fight to see him, but it was too late and now you won’t let me go to his funeral or see my devastated 11-year-old sister,” Ms Caisip wrote.
“You won’t listen and your government is destroying my life.
“Now you are preventing me from going to view his body, which is a very important tradition for me, and also preventing me from going to his funeral this Thursday, even though I am in Brisbane in hotel quarantine and only a few kilometres away.
“My little sister is now without my support and I will never forgive you.”