Australia’s two biggest states reunited in emotional scenes on Monday as the border – shut for only the second time in 101 years due to the coronavirus pandemic – reopened and the first flights since July landed in Sydney from Melbourne.
Friends, family and a musical duo in drag welcomed passengers as they disembarked Qantas flight QF401 at 7:20 a.m. (2020 GMT Sunday), the first of 26 flights scheduled between the two states on Monday.
“I can come and visit my father when I need to without having to worry about when I can get home,” one passenger said as she disembarked.
The border between New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria states closed in July due to an outbreak of COVID-19 around Melbourne – Australia’s second-largest city. It was the first such border closure since 1919 when Australia was battling the Spanish flu.
The outbreak in Victoria, which totalled more than 20,000 cases, was only contained after a stringent lockdown lasting more than 100 days.
But with Victoria going more than three weeks without detecting any COVID-19 infections, authorities made the decision to reopen the border much to the relief of separated families and the tourism and aviation sectors.
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