On Monday, November 1, an emotional scene unfolded at Sydney airport as Australia’s international border reopened after over 600 days, allowing loved ones to reunite.
In reaction to the coronavirus outbreak, Australia imposed some of the world’s strictest border controls on March 20 of last year.
Almost all movement to the island continent came to a halt, prompting detractors to label it a “hermit state.”
Australians have been prohibited from traveling abroad without authorization for the past 19 months.
Families were split across continents, and tens of thousands of nationals were stranded overseas.
The few who did gain permission to enter were forced to spend thousands of dollars and agree to spend 14 days locked in a hotel room.
Those conditions have now been dropped for the country’s two largest cities — Sydney and Melbourne — which will now allow vaccinated Australians to come and go without quarantine of any kind.
Tim Turner, who had not seen his son for more than a year, said it was “pretty brilliant” that they were now able to reunite. Arriving in Sydney was “beautiful, beautiful”, he told reporters at the airport. Julie Choo, who flew back from the UK to visit her sick mother in hospital, said she was trying not to cry as the plane touched down.
She said: “I just can’t wait to touch my mother’s hand when I see her. I can’t wait to hold her. It’s going to be very emotional.