Australia fully open to travel as last state reopens border
PERTH, Australia (AP) — Australia was fully open to vaccinated travelers after Western Australia on Thursday became the last state to lift border restrictions.
Western Australia, which covers one third of the nation’s land area, closed its borders to most international and interstate travelers in 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But the state lifted restrictions on Thursday four months after Sydney began its staged reopening of quarantine-free travel and more than week after all vaccinated tourists became eligible for visas.
Perth’s airport was the scene of emotional reunions as the first of a scheduled 22 domestic flights and five international flights began arriving on Thursday.
Western Australia had successfully stopped the local spread of the coronavirus throughout the pandemic by contract tracing and isolating carriers until the highly contagious omicron variant arrived this year.
The state now reports more than 1,000 new infections every day.
“Australia is now finally back together,” Qantas Airways chief executive Alan Joyce said. “This day has been a long time coming.”
On Wednesday, 61 deaths from COVID-19 were reported across Australia. None was reported that day in Western Australia, Tasmania or the Australian Capital Territory.