Australia reopens border to international visitors

For the first time in nearly two years, Australia’s international border has reopened, bringing with it happy family reunions and a boost to tourism.

After shutting down in March 2020 owing to Covid, the country enacted some of the world’s harshest travel bans.

Most foreigners have had to wait since late last year, when Australians and others were allowed to return.

On Monday, as hundreds of people arrived on aircraft, there were sad reunions at Sydney Airport.

Charlotte, a small girl, gave her grandfather an intense hug. “I’ve missed him so much and I’ve been looking forward to this trip for so long,” she told the local media.

Visitors who have been double-jabbed are exempt from quarantine, but unvaccinated travellers must stay in a hotel for up to 14 days at their own expense.

On Monday, more than 50 international flights were scheduled to arrive. All states are open to visitors, with the exception of Western Australia, which is closed until March 3 and requires three vaccinations.

“What fantastic news for our tourism industry and the 660,000 people who work in it,” said Dan Tehan, Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Investment.

In 2019, Australia received around 9.5 million international tourists. Mr Tehan expressed optimism for a significant recovery in the tourism industry, which has also been harmed by internal travel limitations.

The country’s tight policies were criticised for dividing families and suffocating companies, but they were also credited with saving many lives before vaccines became accessible. There have been approximately 4,900 Covid fatalities in Australia.

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