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Australia's international borders open up after 590 days

Travelers rushed into the arms of their loved ones and embraced family members who had been waiting for them at the airport gates after the first of the quarantine-free aircraft landed at Sydney airport. As the overseas flights arrived at Kingsford Smith Airport before morning on Monday, emotional reunions occurred, and international passengers welcomed their loved ones for the first time in nearly two years. Staff at Sydney Airport carried plates of muffins and savory snacks, Qantas employees held ‘welcome’ placards, and a band set up outside, playing ‘I still call Australia home.’

Outgoing passengers said their goodbyes to their families before stepping through the departure gates as foreign travel resumed. In contrast, the returned travelers walked through the arrival gates to reunite with loved ones. Since the pandemic began, prospective travelers hugged their loved ones goodbye at the taxi station for the first time.

Meanwhile, those in NSW who have been fully jabbed will be able to move freely between Greater Sydney and the regions starting Monday. Intrastate travel restrictions will be lifted, allowing families to reconnect for the first time in months and reviving area tourism. As of Saturday, 83.6 percent of eligible NSW individuals aged 16 and above have gotten their first dose of coronavirus vaccine, with 87.7% having received all doses. Adults who had their second immunization six months ago or longer will be able to participate in the state’s vaccine booster program beginning Monday.

‘For the first time in a long time, grandparents will be able to visit grandkids … many people will be reunited,’ Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Sunday.

With double dose vaccination coverage at 88 percent, he believes it is safe to bring Sydneysiders back into the rest of the state. Consumer spending is expected to increase by $1 billion each week due to the border opening.

Throughout the state, Pfizer dosages will be available in pharmacies, GP clinics, and state-run hubs. On Monday, rapid antigen tests will be accessible across the country.

Australians who have been aching to go abroad for the past year and a half will now be permitted to do so as long as they have received both vaccinations and are permanent residents or citizens. There is no longer a requirement for persons who have been double-vaccinated and are returning to Australia to quarantine at home or in a hotel upon arrival in NSW, Victoria, or the ACT. This means that the agonizing fortnight spent cooped up in a hotel room will be a thing of the past, with travelers having to pay hundreds of dollars for their lodging.

Other states and territories, however, are exempt from the new freedoms. From December 15, fully-vaccinated visitors to Tasmania will enter the state without needing to go through quarantine. A negative Covid test must be provided 72 hours before arrival.

This flight marks the first time some families have been reunited for the first time in 590 days, following the closure of international borders in March 2020.