Australia’s Queensland state on Tuesday lifted border restrictions on the country’s two most populous states for the first time in more than eight months, reuniting families and aiding the country’s economic recovery.
Residents from all of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria will now be allowed to freely travel to Queensland. Some areas of NSW were briefly allowed to travel to Queensland in July, though these rights were quickly rescinded.
Road check points between Queensland and NSW were removed in the early hours on Tuesday, while the first flights landed at 6am local time with passengers arriving in Brisbane Airport greeted by a singer and a piano player.
“I’m going to see my dad. We lost our mum in January and its been gut wrenching,” one woman told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. She did not give her name.
Queensland state, a popular holiday destination, has taken one of Australia’s hardest lines on border restrictions. While it has won favour among most of the state’s residents, it has frustrated federal leaders who argued it was unnecessary when NSW particularly was recording only a handful of cases each day.
Since then, NSW and Victoria have each gone more than three weeks without any locally acquired infections.
With international travel banned, Queensland hopes to see a wave of domestic tourists for the busy summer season.
There are 26 flights scheduled to arrive in Queensland from Victoria and NSW on Tuesday.
Residents of South Australia are still prohibited from travelling to Queensland after more than 30 cases were detected in recent weeks.
Australia has recorded nearly 28,000 Covid-19 infections to date, according to health ministry data, far fewer than many other developed countries. Victoria accounts for more than 90% of the country’s 905 deaths.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)