Tearful reunions as Western Australia ends COVID border closure | Coronavirus pandemic News

Australia’s largest state ends one of many world’s longest coronavirus-related border closures.

Australia’s largest state has reopened to completely vaccinated home and worldwide travellers, ending one of many world’s longest coronavirus border closures.

Western Australia, which covers one-third of the nation’s land space, closed its borders to most worldwide and interstate travellers in 2020 to gradual the unfold of COVID-19.

However these restrictions have been lifted on Thursday, after 697 days, changing into the final Australian state to raise border curbs.

The transfer got here greater than every week after the Australian federal authorities started granting visas to vaccinated vacationers and 4 months after Australia’s greatest metropolis, Sydney, started its staged reopening of quarantine-free journey.

The airport in Perth, Western Australia’s capital, was the scene of emotional reunions as the primary of twenty-two scheduled home flights and 5 worldwide flights started arriving on Thursday.

“We count on about 5,000 home and worldwide travellers to reach on Thursday and tens of hundreds of individuals within the coming weeks,” mentioned Al Jazeera’s Sarah Clarke, reporting from Brisbane on Australia’s east coast.

“There have been emotional scenes on the airport. We’ve seen so many individuals arrive and reunite. It’s actually the tip of a really uncommon chapter the place we had one state minimize off from the remainder of the nation for such an extended time frame.”

With a purpose to enter Western Australia, travellers will have to be absolutely vaccinated and full a journey move.

They may even should bear a speedy check inside 12 hours of arrival and report any constructive end result to authorities, although the measure might be reviewed after two weeks.

Unvaccinated returning Australians will nonetheless be required to undergo lodge quarantine.

Western Australia had efficiently stopped the native unfold of the coronavirus all through the pandemic, by contact tracing and isolating carriers, till the extremely contagious Omicron variant arrived this 12 months.

The state now stories greater than 1,000 new infections daily.

“Australia is now lastly again collectively,” Qantas Airways Chief Govt Alan Joyce mentioned. “Today has been a very long time coming.”

On Wednesday, 61 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported throughout Australia. None was reported that day in Western Australia, Tasmania or the Australian Capital Territory.