Australia | Tue, December 8, 2020 | 06:17 pm
On Tuesday, the western state of Australia began to allow Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) travelers to enter without having to quarantine for the first time in eight months, in the latest indication that the country is returning to some form of normalcy.
Qantas flight passengers arrived from Sydney in Perth, the capital of Western Australia, to the emotional scenes of families reuniting after months of separation.
The move comes as the two most populous states in Australia have seen few or no new cases in recent weeks, and underlines the progress of Australia in combating the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 1.5 million people worldwide.
“We’re so happy,” Tithi Kulkarni told Perth reporters as she hugged her boyfriend, Ruchira Jayasena, who has been in Sydney for the past six months. “So happy to have him back.”
People from Victoria and NSW entering Western Australia will no longer be needed for two weeks to observe a quarantine in a hotel, State Premier Mark McGowan said.
For more than a month, Victoria has had no new cases, while NSW has reported only one local infection in the last four weeks, data from the state government shows.
Lightening the restrictions means that only individuals arriving from South Australia who registered 30 new cases of coronavirus late last month will have to be quarantined upon arrival. In recent weeks, Western Australia has also resumed free travel to other nations.
The hard line position of McGowan on the boundaries of the state has angered federal officials and citizens of the eastern state who want to return home to see relatives.
But McGowan’s strategy has proved to be common at home, where the local economy is roaring and profiting from high prices of iron ore and wheat.
Western Australia accounts for almost all of Australia’s most precious export production – iron ore – and is Australia’s biggest exporter of wheat.
Data last week showed Perth’s median house price rose by 2.4 percent over the past 12 months, its largest annual rise since 2014, in another sign of a healthy local economy.