Reunions are happening across Australia and New Zealand after the two countries opened a two-way travel bubble on Monday Apr. 19.
Travelers from New Zealand were already allowed to enter Australia without quarantining, and on Monday, New Zealand also started allowing travelers from Australia to do the same. People crowded airports in Sydney and Melbourne on Monday morning, boarding flights to see family and friends in New Zealand after more than a year.
About 140 flights will now operate between Melbourne and New Zealand each week and rise to 180 flights per week by the end of May, which is around 70% of the number of weekly flights before the pandemic, according to CNN.
Under the new travel bubble rules, passengers can only travel if they have no flu symptoms nor a positive COVID-19 test in the previous 14 days. They also have to spend the 14 days before departure in either Australia or New Zealand.
“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries’ reconnection with the world and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of,” New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement, while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the milestone “a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe.”
Both countries have managed to keep COVID-19 infections low through tight restrictions including closing their borders in March last year and instituting compulsory quarantines for travelers coming from countries with a high number of cases.
In October, Australia allowed New Zealand travelers to enter most Australian states without quarantine, but New Zealand continued to require travelers from Australia to quarantine due to sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks.