Passengers were gripped by emotions on Monday as they were preparing to board the first flights of the so-called air bubble, a measure by the Australian and New Zealand governments that allows travel between the two without the need for quarantine when they reach their destination. The event received significant media coverage in both countries, with several live TV broadcasts from the airports.
The resumption of travel has resulted in many family reunions and has allowed families to separate since the border closed a few years ago. 400 days Due to COVID-19, he met again.
Hugging and crying, along with signs that read “Welcome to your country” or the Maori greeting “Kia Aura”, at Sydney and Oakland airports, and she was the first to call back on the day the move was expected 10,000 passengers on 30 flights.
“I will scream, scream, cry, hug, kiss, feel happy, all at the same time”, Denise O’Donogo, 63, told AFP at Sydney airport as she was preparing to board the plane.
Heather Liberopoulos told ABC public network before she took the first flight to Auckland, Sydney, where she would meet her sister who missed a “funeral and go out” of her loved ones when they were stranded in Australia due to border closures.
Almosafer also said that she feels “a kind of normalcy when she comes home” after more than a year.
For Lauren Watt, a New Zealand citizen who was prevented by the epidemic while she was with her family in Australia, it is “wonderful” to be able to travel again. ” Happy to be back homeBut we will miss our family in Australia a lot. ”“ We came to Australia to spend Christmas with our children … We were planning to return in February, but it was a nightmare. ”
Thousands of New Zealand expats live in Australia, and before the outbreak of the Corona virus, many of them took a regular flight to the archipelago, on a three-hour flight only.
On the other side of the bubble, a crying grandmother stated that she was “so excited” that she was finally able to meet her grandson.“We have waited so long.”He told TVNZ New Zealand.
ferries “Welcome family”Hello family, in Maori, is written in block letters on the runway ramp in Wellington, New Zealand. Thus giving a unique reception to all passengers.
Craig Skelling, chief executive of Air New Zealand, described the weather before departure from Sydney Airport as “electrocuted”. He admitted, “It was a real emotional lift.”
The airline CEO, Greg Furan, described the day “Historical” For people working in the tourism sector badly hit. “It’s a real change for the airline. It is the first day of rebirthHe declared.
The new bubble
The creation of the air bubble, which was announced on April 6, It will allow Australians to leave the country for the first time since March 2020. Unlike the New Zealanders, who were able since last October to enter Australia without the need for mandatory quarantine, although they had to spend a period of isolation upon their return.
The successful management of the epidemic in both countries is mainly due to the strict closure of their international borders since March of last year, as well as the implementation of rapid confinement measures and tracking of local infections.
Both Australia and New Zealand indicated that they would continue to maintain two weeks of isolation in hotels and centers available to travelers from other countries. “It is a world-leading deal that opens travel while banishing COVID-19 from society,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
“It’s a great day for families and their friends, and an important step in reconnecting New Zealand with the world.”New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern added.
The good situation also allows New Zealand to come close to opening up other travel bubbles with the Cook Islands and Niue, two Pacific countries that have survived the pandemic. For its part, Australia is seeking, as Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced on Monday, to resume flights with Singapore and other low-risk areas of infection such as the Pacific countries.
Do not be in a hurry to reopen the border
However, these specific opening plans do not mean that both Australia and New Zealand will soon fully open their international borders.
Morrison, who is waiting Repatriate about 30 thousand Australians stranded abroad, He mentioned that his government “There is no rush to open these borders.” In order to avoid risks.
The Australian president had hoped to start opening his borders gradually once the vaccination campaign, which was initially planned in October, is complete. Vaccination was delayed due to problems importing and distributing doses and concerns about their side effects, so some experts believe that international flights will not return to normal until 2024.
For his part, Ardern told Radio New Zealand on Monday that his government would implement Different Protocols depending on the country of origin, By insisting that his government aims to have a “country by country” framework.
Since the start of the epidemic, New Zealand has accumulated about 2,240 confirmed cases, with 26 deaths, while Australia has so far recorded about 29,500 cases, including 909 deaths, most of them due to the outbreak in Melbourne in mid-September. 2020.
(With information from EFE and AFP)