‘Devastated’: Grandmother banned from attending funeral

A grandmother stuck in hotel quarantine in Townsville has been left 'heartbroken' after she was denied attending her grandson's funeral two hours before he was laid to rest.

Sheryl Mulvey, from Victoria, is another Australian caught by the border tensions in Queensland.

Ms Mulvey applied for a border exemption and flew to Townsville on Wednesday, September 2 after her grandson Gage Hepburn died suddenly on August 31, aged 24.

She waited for over a week to hear if she could attend the funeral but was forced to watch the service via videolink on Wednesday.

Sheryl Mulvey, from Victoria, was unable to attend her grandson's funeral in Townsville. Photo: Today
Sheryl Mulvey, from Victoria, was unable to attend her grandson's funeral in Townsville. Photo: Today


Sheryl Mulvey's grandson died suddenly, aged 24. Photo: Today
Sheryl Mulvey's grandson died suddenly, aged 24. Photo: Today

"I'm heartbroken, devastated," Ms Mulvey told the Townsville Bulletin from her hotel room at the Grand Chancellor.

"I was hoping to do home quarantine with my daughter so I could be with family during this time.

"The Queensland Health website says funerals are an exemption, so everyday I was calling them and emailing them.

"I was just getting generic responses from them saying they were progressing with my application. It just gives you false hope."

Gage was born and raised in Townsville and passed away suddenly at home after ongoing medical issues.

"We never though it would end like this. He hadn't been well but we didn't expect this outcome."

Two hours before Gage's funeral Ms Mulvey received a knock on her hotel room door.

The person on the other side informed her she wouldn't be able to attend her grandson's funeral.

"They gave me the option to go and have a viewing before the funeral, but I would have to wear a mask and all the precautionary gear.

"I couldn't do something like that without my family with me.

"I can't understand the lack of empathy these people have. They've taken away something I can never get back, to say goodbye to my grandson.

"If word of this gets out there and it can help stop other people from going through it that would be great. Because it's unbearable."

Ms Mulvey has two daughters and a son in Townsville.

She said she would remain in North Queensland and spend time with them for a few months after she completed her hotel quarantine.

"I never thought I'd be in this situation on my own," she said of her quarantine experience.

"I can't go out for a walk, no one can come and visit me. It's not good."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk fought back her emotions defending the state's tough border and hotel quarantine restrictions today, saying: "I'm human just like everyone else", in the wake of a number of heartbreaking first-person accounts of their impact.

She was close to tears as she was asked to comment on accusations of being cold-hearted over Queensland denying people from declared interstate coronavirus hot spots, and those flying in from overseas, the opportunity to attend funerals without first going into 14 days' quarantine.

"These issues hurt me deeply. They hurt me deeply because during this pandemic I've lost loved ones as well so I know exactly what people are going through," she said.

"I feel these issues very personally, just like everyone else does. It is absolutely heartbreaking and gut wrenching."

Originally published as 'Devastated': Grandmother banned from attending funeral