Sydney, Australia, Nov 23 (efe-epa).- The border between the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria, which account for 56 percent of the country’s population, reopened after a 137-day closure for the first time in 100 years as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Melbourne.
On the highway that separates the border towns of Albury and Wodonga, in New South Wales and Victoria respectively, a DJ led the countdown to midnight on Sunday, when the permit allowing vehicles to travel freely between the two states came into force, according to images shown by local broadcaster SBS.
Meanwhile, at the Sydney airport, a lively group of people greeted travelers from Melbourne after unrestricted flights from the latter resumed.
A total of 25 flights from the capital of Victoria, Melbourne, to that of New South Wales, Sydney, are scheduled for Monday, representing the normalization of one of the busiest air routes in the world.
The New South Wales government closed its 4,635-kilometer (2,880 miles) border with Victoria on July 8 for the first time since the Spanish flu pandemic about a hundred years ago, following a spike in cases caused by alleged breaches in security measures at quarantine centers in Melbourne.
Victoria, which was recording more than 700 cases a day during the peak of the outbreak, also ordered one of the world’s longest lockdowns in July and banned movement to and from Melbourne, with some exceptions.
This Australian state, the epicenter of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country, ended its strict lockdown two weeks ago and has not reported any death or local infection for more than 20 days.
Meanwhile, New South Wales has not reported any local coronavirus cases for over two weeks.
The opening of the border between the states also ends the mandatory 14-day quarantine in New South Wales for travelers from Victoria in order to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Australia currently has 90 active cases and has detected 70 infections among overseas travelers in the last two weeks, a number that may increase due to the repatriation flights planned for its citizens and residents from countries that are recording COVID-19 outbreaks.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Australia has recorded more than 27,820 COVID-19 cases, including 907 deaths, of which about 20,349 infections and 819 deaths have been registered in the state of Victoria. EFE-EPA