FILE PHOTO: Travelers and crew members arrive at the international terminal in Sydney Airport, as countries respond to the novel coronavirus variant Omicron amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in Sydney, Australia, April 30 November 2021. REUTERS / Loren Elliott / File photo
December 12, 2021
SYDNEY (Reuters) – The coronavirus-free state of Queensland opened its domestic borders to all those vaccinated for the first time on Monday in nearly five months, as Australians braced for unregulated travel. spread across most of the country during the busy Christmas period.
Television footage showed hundreds of cars lined up at the state’s southern border with New South Wales before regulations were put in place to take a break at 1am local time (1400 GMT). Sunday).
Queensland, Australia’s third most populous state, closed its border with New South Wales in July and later to people arriving from Victoria to protect against the Delta outbreak that has rocked the eastern part of the country for several days. month.
“We will live with COVID – but on our terms,” State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a tweet as the state topped its goal of having 80% of people over 16 fully immunized – something prerequisites for loosening the rules.
Qantas said it will fly nearly 10,000 passengers to and from Queensland on Monday in about 100 flights, with most flights already booked.
The easing of border restrictions comes just days before the summer break begins and will be a boost to the state’s lucrative tourism industry, which has been hit hard by internal border curbs.
Australian states have eased border regulations after reaching higher levels of vaccination despite the threat from the new Omicron variant.
Tasmania is expected to reopen its borders to other states later this week, while Western Australia will announce its plans on Monday. South Australia has been welcoming interstate travelers since late November.
Australia has recorded nearly 229,000 cases of COVID-19 and 2,104 deaths, less than many comparable countries. About 70 cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the country so far, mainly in Sydney.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; editing by Richard Pullin)
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