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France 24

Australia opens non-quarantine travel bubble with New Zealand

Emotions rose on Monday as enthusiastic passengers departed for the first flights to enjoy a quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand, allowing families separated by the pandemic to finally reunite. “(I’m going to) scream, scream, cry, hug, kiss, (feel) happy – all of those emotions at once,” Denise O’Donoghue, 63, told AFP at the airport from Sydney as she got ready to board her flight. The arrangement means that for the first time in nearly 400 days, passengers can cross the Tasman Sea without being subject to mandatory Covid-19 quarantine upon arrival. “This is a very big and exciting day for families and friends,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who hailed the two countries’ success in containing the virus as a key factor in clearing the corridor Australia was New Zealand’s largest source of international tourists before the pandemic, accounting for around 1.5 million arrivals or 40% of total visitors in 2019 The bubble opening was saturated with media from both countries, with live television reports from airports providing regular updates on flight progress.On a grassy embankment at the foot of the Wellington Airport runway, the words’ WELCOME ” WHANAU ‘(family) have been spelled out in giant letters. Lorraine Wratt, a New Zealander stranded by the pandemic while visiting family in Australia, told AFP it was “wonderful” to be able to travel again. coming home, but our family (in Australia) will be sorely missed, “she said.” We came to Australia on December 11 to spend Christmas with our children … we are planning to go back in February, it is a bit of a nightmare. “The first day of our rebirth” Australia is home to hundreds of thousands of expatriate New Zealanders and, before the coronavirus, many regularly shuttled through Tasmania on three-hour flights. she feels the world is returning to some kind of normalcy. “I’ll be back, they’ll be back, we’ll just be back to normal,” she said. “What will normal be from now on? I don’t know, but I’m really, really excited today.” Craig Suckling, director of Air New Zealand, told the atmosphere at Sydney Airport before departure was electric. “It was quite an emotional roller coaster here in Sydney,” he said. “The check-in area was a hive of activity and at the departure gate customers were eager to get on “General Manager Greg Foran said it was also a ‘monumental’ day for those involved in the hard-hit tourism industry.” (It’s) a real turning point for the airline. This is the first day of our rebirth, ”he said. (AFP)



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