There have been tears of joy at Sydney airport today as loved ones reunited for the first time in nearly 600 days. Sydney and Melbourne have re-opened to international travellers, permitting vaccinated Australian citizens to return without quarantine. Since the start of the pandemic, families and loved ones have been separated, with thousands of Australians stranded overseas due to one of the world’s toughest border lockdowns.
Nearly all travel into the country was stopped, earning Australia the nickname, “the hermit state”. The only way for Australians to return was to submit to a strict (and costly) 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense. According to an AFP report, Australian national Tim Turner hadn’t seen his son in over a year until he touched down at Sydney airport today. Meanwhile, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the resumption of international flights has been a long time coming.
“It’s wonderful to see Australians able to reunite with loved ones after such a long time apart.”
The resumption of international travel is expected to be gradual, given how long the border shutdown lasted. Passenger numbers were low on the first international flights to arrive in the country today. Meanwhile, the re-opening remains aimed at citizens for now, with around 1 million foreign residents in Australia still stuck and unable to travel to friends or family overseas. Furthermore, several Australian states yet to meet their vaccination targets remain closed, with mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine still in force.
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