By Renju Jose
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hundreds of passengers gathered in Australia’s airports on Monday as the open border system began with New Zealand, a pandemic milestone allowing Australians to fly there for the first time in over a year without quarantine for two weeks.
Although most Australian states have allowed New Zealand residents to visit without quarantine since the end of last year, New Zealand has enforced quarantine against those coming from neighboring countries, citing concerns about sporadic virus outbreaks there.
TV footage showed hundreds of passengers crowded together at international departure terminals at Australian airports.
“This is the first time in 400 days that people can travel without isolation and we are adding 16 round-trip flights a day to New Zealand, and these flights are full,” said the Director. Qantas executive Alan Joyce told Australian Broadcasting Corp on Monday.
The open border will help promote economic recovery for both countries and reunite thousands with family and friends, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a joint statement.
Ardern says: “It is really fun to start an off-road trip with Australia. Whether it’s coming back to family, friends or vacationers, New Zealand says welcome and enjoy yourself.” .
Both Australia and New Zealand have closed most of their borders to noncitizens and permanent residents more than a year ago, helping to keep their COVID-19 numbers relatively low compared to some. other developed countries.
Morrison and Ardern warn visitors to prepare for short-term interruption of travel arrangements in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19, and said the risks of travel without quarantine would be ” constant review “.
Both leaders also marked the possibility of expanding non-quarantine tours to other countries in the Pacific when “it is safe”.
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