The tears reunion filled Auckland Airport on Monday as residents from Australia were free to travel to New Zealand for the first time in over a year.
The long-awaited Australian and New Zealand travel bubble means that visitors no longer need to be quarantined on arrival.
Thousands of passengers were booked to fly between the two countries on Monday.
Both countries have contained Covid outbreaks and kept infection rates low, primarily due to strict restrictions.
Excited passengers crowded Australian airports on Monday for flights to various parts of New Zealand, and some climbed before dawn to prepare for boarding.
“I didn’t know how emotional I was today,” passenger Dawn Trat told the BBC at Sydney Airport.
Many made a fuss in the hope of meeting their loved ones, but it was a more depressing opportunity for others.
“My brother died last Thursday. I couldn’t get there last week, but today I was given the opportunity to go home without quarantine, so it’s very good to go and rest him. “, John said. Pararaghi in Sydney.
Nirari Johar said he will meet his partner for the first time in almost two years.
“I couldn’t sleep last night. It was very exciting,” she said. “We were just … happy that it happened and we were able to lead a normal life again.”
She said she was looking forward to “going to the cafe, freezing, and doing what people do face-to-face on a normal day.” “The zoom relationship isn’t good. I’m beyond that,” she added.
Australia and New Zealand closed their borders in March last year and introduced compulsory quarantine for returning citizens.
Since October, New Zealand travelers have been allowed to enter most Australian states without quarantine, but this was not repaid due to concerns about sporadic Covid outbreaks.
To fly under the rules of the bubble, passengers must spend 14 days prior to departure in either Australia or New Zealand. They must not wait for the results of the Covid test, among other rules, and must not have Covid symptoms.
“It’s weird to fly again.”
The international departure terminal at Sydney Airport was very busy early in the day. The row in front of the check-in desk was long and spiral. Many parents tried to entertain a tired toddler who had to wake up very early in time for his first flight from Sydney to Auckland on the first day of the Transtusman bubble.
Some passengers told me they camped outside from 02:00 local time (17:00 GMT on Sunday) before the airport opened. Others said they were so excited that they couldn’t sleep. Jetstar’s first flight was completely full.
It’s been a big day for airlines, which have had a devastating year thanks to Covid, and a great sigh of relief for both the travel and tourism industries. But really, this moment is about reuniting friends and family with their loved ones.
Dawn Trat’s voice broke a bit when she spoke to me prior to takeoff in Sydney. Her cousin is sick and this is a difficult time for her family, but she is happy to be there for her.
“We are very honored to be able to travel that way here in Australia and New Zealand. It’s strange to fly again,” she smiled with tears.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a joint statement that the bubble is expected to bring vitality to the economies of both countries.
“It’s really exciting to start a trip without quarantine in Australia. Welcome and enjoy New Zealand with family, friends and vacationers returning home,” Ardern said.
The country relies on Australia for 40% of its international tourism and has invested approximately NZ $ 2.7 billion (£ 1.4 billion, $ 1.9 billion) in its economy.
Conversely, New Zealanders accounted for 1.3 million arrivals in Australia in 2019, contributing A $ 2.6 billion (£ 1.46 billion, $ 2 billion) to the Australian economy.
Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand all fly routes between the two countries.
Still, leaders warned that Transtusman’s travel bubble is under “continuous reviews” given the risks of traveling without quarantine.
The two countries have previously raised the idea of separating travel bubbles in low-risk locations such as Singapore, Taiwan and some Pacific island nations.
Both countries have been praised for dealing with the Covid pandemic. Strict border control and snap lockdown are one of the measures to keep infection rates low. 910 people have died in Australia and 26 in New Zealand.
Despite its successful containment, the Australian Government faces the following growing criticisms: Delayed deployment of Covid vaccination.. This country is far behind other countries and has failed to meet its vaccination goals. Delays can delay further relaxation of border restrictions.