The first passengers from New Zealand arrived in Australia on Friday under a new ‘travel bubble’ arrangement between the two countries.
Pictures from the airport showed the emotional moment friends and family members were reunited after seven months apart.
None of the passengers on the flight from Auckland to Sydney will have to self-isolate after landing, though they must pay for their own quarantine in a hotel if they return.
That will cost around £1,586 for the first person and more for additional family members, though about 90% of those travelling with Air New Zealand on Friday were booked one-way.
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Passengers were greeted with a sign that read ‘we’ve missed you’ as they made their way through the terminal to greet their loved ones.
There were hugs, kisses and tears as those who found themselves trapped in New Zealand when the pandemic hit saw their partners for the first time since March.
The bubble only applies to the state of New South Wales and the Northern Territory, but Australian officials said they hoped to expand to other states soon.
The one-way deal means Australians still can’t enter New Zealand, which was among the first countries to close its borders back in March.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke highly of the deal on Friday, saying it shows promise for what may be possible in the coming months.
The next countries that could see mandatory quarantine dropped include Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
It comes amid a rapidly falling growth rate in cases at the epicentre of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak.
The state of Victoria recorded just two new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours in the lowest daily increase since early June.
Victoria, and in particular the state capital of Melbourne, have endured months of strict lock-down measures, although Premier Daniel Andrews is due to announce plans to ease some restrictions on Sunday.
Only returning Australian citizens and residents and those with special permission have previously been allowed to enter the country since March, when borders were quickly closed as coronavirus swept across the globe.
There is thought to be a backlog of around 29,000 Australians still trying to get into the country.
In the state of New South Wales, where three New Zealand flights will be landing on Friday, community transmission has crept up in recent days to double-digits, although the case load is modest compared to outbreaks in much of Europe and North America.
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