Today, international flights are landing in most of Australia’s major cities, bringing happy tears to the eyes of families and loved ones.
Newly engaged couples who have been apart for nearly two years, grandparents who have finally been able to hug their grandchildren, and even friends who have put life-changing events like weddings on hold multiple times just so those important to them could attend are among the touching get-togethers.
Jodie, a Sydney resident, told 9News that she had delayed her wedding four times so that her friend from LA could attend.
“The fact you guys opened up literally three days before the wedding is unbelievable,” Jodie’s friend told 9News after hugging her.
When one of the international flights landed in Adelaide this morning, a couple who had left each other as boyfriend and girlfriend two years ago was finally able to embrace each other as fiancés.
There were more emotional reunions in Queensland as the first quarantine-free international flight from Singapore arrived in Brisbane.
After years of separation, Grant Bartlett believes the open border is a welcome change.
“I couldn’t get back. I’m just happy to be home,” he said.
“My parents don’t know I’m here so I’m going to go surprise them. I think it’s going to be an emotional day.
“I’m trying not to cry. I understand we need to keep Australia safe but it does come at a cost.”
Returning traveler James Young expressed his pleasure at the return of travel to Australia, saying that the separation from loved ones had been painful.
“I’ve missed a couple of funerals over the last two years. COVID’s been very much like that but I’m glad Australia’s opened its borders up,” he said.
After 704 days of being locked out, Victoria’s first international flight arrived at Melbourne Airport just after 8 a.m., continuing the emotional reunions.
Local resident Simon and his mother Sue, who was on board the flight from Singapore, were among those who reconnected.
“I’ve waited so long for this moment,” Simon told 9News.
“I cried on the plane just imagining this moment,” Sue added.
Shane Delia, a celebrity chef, was also on board the flight from Singapore and expressed his excitement at returning home.
“Most exciting news we’ve had in a long time. Melbourne is about welcoming people and about hospitality. To welcome everyone is amazing,” Mr. Delia said.
To celebrate the return of international travelers, Mr. Delia said he will be handing out food vouchers to his restaurant Maha.
Susie was another excited Melburnian looking forward to seeing her brother for the first time in almost three years.
“It’s been tough two-and-a-half years. So excited I want to cry,” Susie told 9News.
“It will be huge. It’s been a long time. We’re so excited to see him and have him.”
Meanwhile, Bernie was waiting at the arrivals gate at Sydney Airport for his granddaughter Charlotte and her mother, who was flying in from Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
For the first time in two years, he wrapped his arms around the young girl, expressing his gratitude that the border was reopened.
“It is great to have her home again, absolutely brilliant,” Bernie told 9News.
“I’ve missed him so much and I’ve looked forward to this trip for so long,” Charlotte added.
Passengers are making their way through the arrival gates after an aircraft from Vancouver landed in Sydney.
All visitors are also greeted by a DJ and given Vegemite jars and koala toys.
The Federal Government relaxed a border ban intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, allowing international tourists to enter Australia.
At 9 p.m. on March 20, 2020, the Morrison government closed the borders to all non-citizens and non-residents.