Biggest Australian States Reopen Borders As Coronavirus Cases Ease

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SYDNEY: Australia’s two most populous states reopened their borders on Monday after more than four months, as Victoria cut a second coronavirus wave, increasing the prospects for a more rapid return to normal and rapid economic recovery.

New South Wales and Victoria closed their borders in early July, the first time in more than a century, to contain a COVID-19[female[feminine epidemic in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria. The borders were last closed in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.

The lifting of the border ban at midnight sparked happy scenes and celebrations in border towns, with most drivers crossing the border honking their horns to cheers from border workers, television footage showed.

The reopening of borders is expected to lead to an increase in air traffic between Melbourne and Sydney, one of the busiest routes in the world before the pandemic, Sydney airport is expecting nearly 4,000 passengers on 26 flights from Victoria on Monday.

In addition to helping businesses that straddle both sides of the border, lifting the border ban will also put more people back to work in several sectors hit hard by the pandemic, including airlines.

“Today, some people who have not worked since March are going to board a plane for the first time,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told local broadcaster Seven News.

Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, appears to have effectively eliminated the virus as it has not reported any new COVID-19[female[feminine infections for the 24th consecutive day Monday.

Sunday, Victoria, that was the country coronavirus the epicenter just over a month ago, relaxed its rules on outdoor masks and allowed larger public gatherings, aided by a steady decline in cases.

Victoria accounts for around 73% of Australia’s total COVID-19[female[feminine slightly more than 27,800 and 90% of its 907 deaths.

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