Sydney, Australia, Nov 1 (EFE).- Fully-vaccinated Australian nationals and permanent residents can return to Sydney and Melbourne without quarantine as the government eased travel restrictions from Monday.
The two most populated cities of the country, which account for around 40 percent of Australia’s total population, ended quarantine rules for inoculated travelers after vaccinating 80 percent of their target population.
Australia had closed its international borders in March 2020.
International passengers started arriving at the Sydney airport early Monday and were greeted with tears, flowers, and hugs from their loved ones.
“Australia is open. Australians are traveling again,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison, attending the G20 summit in Rome, said.
The country’s partial reopening also allows Australian citizens and permanent residents aged 12 and over to leave the country without an outwards travel exemption for the first time since the pandemic.
However, Australia’s international borders are not yet open for tourists or international students, while nationals who have received only one or no dose of the accepted Covid-19 vaccines will have to quarantine upon arrival and need to apply for an exemption to leave.
About 1,500 people will return to Australia on Monday on about 20 flights to Sydney and Melbourne.
They are among the thousands waiting to do so in countries including the United Kingdom and the United States.
Despite the resumption of international arrivals in Sydney and Melbourne, respective capitals of New South Wales and Victoria, other Australian states that are further behind in their vaccination efforts still maintain travel restrictions between the jurisdictions.
Australia, which recently battled a Covid-19 outbreak linked to the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus, has recorded more than 171,500 infections and about 1,750 deaths since the start of the pandemic. EFE