SYDNEY, November 5 (Reuters) – Australia’s Victoria State lifted entry restrictions for citizens of neighboring New South Wales on Friday, allowing almost general reciprocal travel between the country’s two largest states ahead of the busy Christmas period.
Travel between the couple, home to more than half of Australia’s 25 million inhabitants, has been severely disrupted for several months due to an outbreak of Delta variant-driven COVID-19 cases.
“Victoria and NSW have been through so much over the last few months and we are delighted that more families will now be able to reunite just in time for Christmas and the holiday season,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement late in the day. Thursday.
Travel company Flight Center (FLT.AX) said “open borders between Australia’s economic powerhouses” would be a major boost for hotels, airlines and other tourism companies as flights resume between Sydney and Melbourne, one of the busiest domestic routes in the world before pandemic.
Victoria on Friday downgraded all virus hotspots in its neighbor to safe for the first time in months, and also allowed unvaccinated NSW citizens to enter without quarantine. Victoria had already opened access to fully vaccinated New South Wales residents without quarantine last month, after closing its border in July.
New South Wales, which had allowed entry throughout the crisis for vaccinated Victorians, provided they completed a two-week quarantine, dropped the quarantine requirement earlier in the week. However, it remains closed to all unvaccinated travelers over the age of 16 from the neighbor.
The number of double-dose vaccinations for adults has approached 90% in New South Wales and 83% in Victoria.
Both states continue to report cases as they shift to a strategy of living with the virus given the high vaccination rates.
Victoria reported 1,343 cases on Friday, while New South Wales reported 249. Australia has reported a total of around 177,000 cases and 1,794 deaths, far lower than many other comparable countries.
Reporting by Renju Jose; editing by Jane Wardell
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