A media scrum surrounding celebrities has been an unlikely scene at Sydney Airport this year.
But as New South Wales and Victoria reopened borders on Monday, after more than four months, media and groups gathered at airports and border crossings to greet the first travellers making the trip across state lines.
A heartwarming video of Dave ‘Hughesy’ Hughes and Ed Kavalee catching the attention of media and fans at Sydney airport has racked up more than 10,000 views and helped spread the joy and relief many are feeling today.
The comedians travelled from Melbourne ahead of a press announcement on Monday morning that unveiled them as Sydney’s new 2Day FM breakfast hosts alongside Erin Molan.
NSW and Victoria closed their borders in early July, the first time in more than a century, to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne. The borders were last shut in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.
Lifting of the border ban at midnight triggered joyful scenes and celebrations across the border towns with most drivers crossing the border honking their car horns to cheers from border residents, television footages showed.
Reopening of the borders should see a surge in air traffic between Melbourne and Sydney, one of the busiest routes 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 that straddle both sides of the border, lifting of the border ban will also put more people back on jobs in several hard-hit sectors during the pandemic, including airlines.
“Today, some people who haven’t worked since March are going to be on aircraft for the first time,” Qantas boss Alan Joyce told 7 News.
Victoria appeared to have effectively eliminated the virus as it reported no new COVID-19 infections for the 24th straight day on Monday.
On Sunday, Victoria, which was the country’s coronavirus epicenter just over a month ago, eased its outdoor mask rules and allowed larger public gatherings, helped by a steady decline in cases.
Victoria accounts for about 73% of Australia’s total COVID-19 cases of just over 27,800 and 90% of its 907 deaths.
With additional reporting from Reuters.