Bendigo performer Charlie Munday is in hotel quarantine in Sydney after returning from the United States after the Trump administration moved to suspend visas for foreigners working in America.
Munday said it was a tough decision to come home after studying theatre and working professionally as a performer for the last four years.
After growing up in Bendigo and performing countless shows with Bendigo Theatre Company, Munday went to America to study at the American Musical and Drama Academy. Since graduating he has performed professionally with American theatre companies.
The 23-year-old was due to start rehearsing in June for a series of outdoor shows and concerts with the Cumberland Country Playhouse in Tennessee.
"With the COVID spikes, the Trump administration announced the immigration restrictions and it timed with me going for the renewal of my artists visa," Munday said. "So I was not technically deported but there was strong recommendation that, even if I was approved, I wouldn't work until October."
Cumberland had already cancelled its spring and summer theatre seasons, leaving Munday out of work for almost three months.
"When the theatre announced some outdoor theatre shows and a concert series, I was offered roles in those shows," he said. "It was exciting to be one of only professional theatres to stay open because of the outdoor theatre space.
"(But) the cases were looking worse and worse across the country. Tennessee was starting to really spike in numbers and it didn't make sense to stay.
"I went through every emotion. I got a call from my lawyers with the recommendations and a week later I was flying out. I packed up, moved out of the cast house and it felt like a very tumultuous week. But I am excited to be coming back to family and friends and the safety of my home country."
Munday began his quarantine on June 26 after a 48-hour journey back to Australia that included long stopovers in Texas and San Francisco.
For the next week, Munday's life will be contained to a Sydney hotel room.
"It's not too bad. I'm lucky to be staying at the Intercontinental Hotel with a gorgeous view of Sydney Harbour," he said. "Friends and family have dropped of care packages of wine, snacks and books.
"But being such an enforced quarantine, it's very introspective. I don't think I know of another time where I have spent so much time in a room by myself.
"Security patrols the halls outside room. I can open my door to get food and packages but other than that must stay in my room."
Prior to leaving the US, Munday had taken steps to ensure coronavirus didn't affect his life. He left New York prior the virus taking hold of the city to start his contract in Tennessee.
"I really lucked out when it came to COVID life," he said. "I left my apartment in February when COVID had just made it (to New York) in small numbers.
"We saw it flare up in New York and it became the epicentre. All my best friends who lived there posted about how intense it was. Tennessee was a little bubble for long time.
"It was business as usual until numbers started to rise. I worked for a few weeks and Broadway shut down and around us theatres were closing. My theatre was in a more contained area and wasn't affected straight away.
"Most of the COVID culture I saw was through social media and what my friends were facing. When it finally got to Tennessee, restaurants and theatres shut down, there was only pharmacies and grocery stores open. For a few weeks we didn't leave house, it really did get very quiet."
After quarantine he will help his brother move from Sydney to Melbourne where he eventually hopes to resume his career.
"To be Melbourne-based and a couple of hours away from my family is a dream after living on the other side world," Munday said.
"It was a big relief for me and family to see me back in Australia. I don't regret moving over (to the US) and staying to start a career. I really have had a fantastic last four years."
After moving to the US at age 19, Munday said the thought of coming home for more than a holiday was very daunting.
"I felt like I had lost my career and everything I had worked up to in the last four years," he said.
I felt like I had lost my career and everything I had worked up to in the last four years.Charlie Munday
"After the initial shock, I realised there is great theatre community in Australia I haven't explored. With cases much lower (in Australia) than other places, there opportunity for the theatre industry to re-open is sooner than in other places.
"I do hope to return (to the US) it's just hard to say when. The theatre I worked at have reached out to say I have contract waiting for me. It isn't the end, it's an intermission."