Australia is now reopening its borders tot the rest of the world for the first time in nearly two years, bringing joyful family reunions and a boost to tourism.
Australia imposed some of the world’s strictest travel bans after shutting itself off in March 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic.
Australians and some others were allowed to return from late last year, but most foreigners have had to wait.
On February 21, there were tearful reunions at Sydney Airport as hundreds of people began arriving on flights.
Double-vaccinated visitors do not need to quarantine, but unvaccinated travellers must do so in a hotel for up to 14 days at their own expense.
More than 50 international flights were due to land on February 21. Travellers can enter all states except Western Australia, which remains closed until March 3 and will require three jabs.
“What wonderful, wonderful news for our tourism industry and the 660,000 people employed in it,” said Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan
Australia had about 9.5 million overseas visitors in 2019.
Dan Tehan said he hoped for a strong rebound in the tourism sector, which has been hit by domestic travel bans too.
Australia’s strict measures drew criticism for separating families and stifling businesses, but they were also credited with preventing many deaths before vaccines were available.
Australia has had about 4,900 Covid deaths.