A Horsham year 12 graduate's university aspirations have been put temporarily on hold as Sydney's northern beaches COVID cluster grows, threatening strict border closures.
17 year-old Gemma Sounness planned to fly to Sydney to attend the University of NSW open day when she received the news the northern beaches outbreak grew to 17 on Thursday night.
The cluster reached 28 on Friday.
"We were looking at all the cases rising and that it might change to mandatory hotel quarantine or home quarantine. It's been on the cautionary side of that," she said.
Gemma wants to study a double degree in business and media, and was tossing up between enrolling at the University of NSW and the University of Queensland.
She wanted to travel to Sydney to see what campus life was like and what the city had to offer.
"I am disappointed but I can't really do much. Hopefully we can get up there before I have to make a decision," she said.
"I wish I could go up there and get a weekend away which would be nice. I'll just have to wait and see if we can do that in the future."
Gemma's plans were one of many thrown into disarray a week before Christmas as the Victorian government implemented a permit system for anyone arriving from New South Wales.
Anyone who has been to the northern beaches and plans to travel to Victoria will also face 14-days of hotel quarantine.
Having recently graduated, Gemma said she had learnt to live with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
For 14 weeks during her VCE studies, Gemma had to attend classes online, which she said made her final year of high school much harder.
"At school I used to be able to see my teachers face-to-face. Because I was at boarding school I could go after class and see them," she said.
"But it was a lot harder after things moved online because you had to talk to them through a call and you wouldn't get the feedback you would usually get."
While circumstances have put a damper on Gemma's plans, she believed having to study through the pandemic will make the class of 2020 uniquely resilient.
"I think it will be beneficial because at university you have to be more on your own, so it will be different for us in that way. Maybe it's a long term gain. We might not feel it now but in the future we will."
To apply for a permit to travel from NSW to Victoria, visit https://www.service.vic.gov.au/services/border-permit/home.
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