For the first time in more than four months, the New South Wales-Victoria border is fully open and flights between the states have returned to the sky.
The border was closed by NSW in July to stop the spread of Covid-19 as Victorians got down to the serious business of battling their second wave.
The border opened a minute after midnight, allowing Victorians to freely visit NSW for the first time since early July without having to go into quarantine, reports Australian Associated Press. NSW is now the only state in the country with no hard border restrictions in place.
During the lockdown, flights on the route dropped to as low as one flight per day for what is normally the busiest air route in the country. On Monday, Qantas and Jetstar are operating 17 return flights, carrying around 4,500 passengers.
Qantas and Jetstar sold more 25,000 seats in the first 48 hours after it was announced the border restrictions would be lifted.
Virgin Australia will operate four return services per day, or 28 per week, between Melbourne and Sydney and plans to progressively increase flight frequency ahead of the Christmas holidays.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian visited the border town of Wodonga on Sunday to thank the community for its efforts during the border closure. “We never want to see this ever again,” she said.
In person visits are also resuming for the 12,866 prisoners in NSW jails who have not had any visitors since the system was locked down in March.
There have been 145,000 video chats but from now on visitors will be able to see inmates in person with restrictions including: temperature checks, masks, a limit of two visitors with physical contact limited to fist or elbow bumps.
There have been no recorded cases of community transmission of Covid-19 in NSW for 15 days and Victoria has now been infection free for 23 consecutive days.