Lockyer Valley man’s coronavirus holiday hell
IT was a holiday that felt like living in a jail cell.
What was supposed to be 10 days of beers, food and adventure with a mate in the Philippines turned into a disaster trying to get a flight home to Australia for the Gatton Star's David Greer.
Less than 24 hours after landing in the Philippines, Manilla Airport was in lockdown, and from there everything intensified.
Mr Greer said the Filipinos knew what was coming. They knew how to act, and it was quick.
"They were prepared. Every time you left the hotel, every shop you entered, you were temperature checked," he said.
"Shops were only allowed to be open from 11am to 8pm, then everyone was expected to be in the homes or hotels."
The next 10 days were stressful for Mr Greer, who feared he would be stuck on Cebu Island for a month.
With Manila in lockdown, it was impossible to get a flight.
"I had to contact my cousin in Australia through Facebook Messenger to book a flight for me," he said.
The remaining days were spent watching movies from the hotel room and asking the hotel receptionists for any updates on the coronavirus pandemic.
"The movie channel was the only one I could understand," he said.
Mr Greer said each day, the restrictions became tighter and tighter.
But what disappointed Mr Greer the most was the price gauging by airlines for Australians to return home.
His original return trip cost $760, but getting home meant a flight from Ceba to Hong Kong, to Melbourne and back to Brisbane, at a whopping $1365.
"I heard the Australian government was going to help Australians get back home before lockdown. There was no contact, no nothing. You were on your own," he said.
"When I heard they were going to put on more flights to get people home, it certainly wasn't from the Philippines. There were a lot of Australians trying to get home."
Mr Greer returned to Australia on Tuesday, and has since been in self-isolation.
He said Australia was behind the eight-ball when it came to stopping the virus, and international screening appeared somewhat lax.
"They're just letting people walk into Australia, signing a form and 'seeya later'," he said.
"In one week in Cebu I would have had my temperature taken more than 100 times. In the last few days I was there you had to wear a face mask to go to the shopping centre."
Mr Greer said he was initially very worried he would catch coronavirus, but believes he will be OK.