Published on : Tuesday, November 24, 2020
On Monday, the border between Australia’s two most populous states- New South Wales and Victoria was reopened after more than four months of shutdown, as Victoria finally came out of a second wave of coronavirus infections after observing a strict lockdown.
It was back on July 8 that the two states closed their border for the first time in more than a century, as the government in Victoria moved to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, the state’s capital and Australia’s second-biggest city. The NSW and Victoria border was last shut in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.
Joyful scenes were noticed in border towns as the ban was lifted with drivers honking their car horns to earn cheers from the residents. A surge in air traffic between Melbourne and Sydney is also likely to be noticed following the reopening of the borders. The route was one of the busiest in the world before the pandemic, with Sydney airport expecting nearly 4,000 passengers across 26 flights from Victoria on Monday.
Besides providing relief to businesses from both sides of the border, the lifting of the border ban will also put more people back on jobs in several sectors that have been largely affected during the pandemic, including airlines. Alan Joyce, Chief Executive Officer, Qantas said in a statement that some people who have not worked since March are going to be on aircraft for the first time.
At the moment, Victoria has reported no new cases of COVID-19 for 24 days and has also eased rules on outdoor mask-wearing and the size of public gatherings. The state became the epicentre of Australia’s COVID-19 outbreak in July after a breach in its hotel quarantine system triggered a surge in cases and the authorities imposed a strict lockdown in Melbourne on July 8. The state accounts for about 73 percent of Australia’s total COVID-19 cases of just over 27,800 and 90 percent of its 907 deaths.