First Aussies prepare to fly out after lengthy travel ban
Emma Weir and her family will tomorrow be among the first people to leave the country without an exemption for 20 months.
They are on the first flight from Darwin to London as the COVID-19 travel ban finally ends.
Free travel in, or out, of Australia has not been allowed since the borders closed on March 20, 2020 – almost 600 days ago.
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But from Monday all citizens and permanent residents can leave without exemption as long as they are fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine.
Aussies can travel anywhere, though the government’s SmartTraveller site lists individual warnings for each nation.
Getting back, however depends on the destination within Australia, with all but NSW, Victoria and the ACT still requiring hotel quarantine and therefore having strict flight limits.
The Weir family are not going on holiday but reuniting with family.
Mrs Weir, husband Kieran and kids, Farran, nine, and Niven, seven, are desperate to see their relatives in the UK.
“For the kids seeing their grandparents for the first time in three-and-a-half years will be emotional,” Mrs Weir said.
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Mrs Weir admitted she was “excited but also a bit terrified” about travelling again amid all the rules.
“Until we’re in the air I don’t feel like we can completely relax,” she said.
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The family has been travelling around Australia since Mr Weir lost his job in video gaming earlier this year, and will return home to Sydney from the UK on December 31.
Because the family has permanent residency, they were banned from leaving just like citizens.
While exemptions could be applied for, a severe lack of seats on planes due to tight travel rules made it hard to get back, therefore a gamble to leave.
There are currently 46,800 Aussies registered with authorities as wanting to return.
The travel ban meant Mrs Weir missed her grandfather’s funeral.
“I’m not sure that’s something I’ll ever recover from,” she said.
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Now they’re almost on their way to England her children have a special dream.
“My kids are praying for a white Christmas,” she said.
First flights in and out of reopened states
The first flight into Sydney where passengers won’t be ushered by police into hotel quarantine and charged up to $5000 for a family, will be QF12.
It lands from Los Angeles at 6am tomorrow with celebrations expected.
The flight will Qantas‘ first regular international passenger journey for almost two years, except for repatriation flights.
The airline will now be using Darwin instead of Perth as a transit hub, due to WA’s harsh border closures.
Some airlines have continued to fly into Australia throughout the pandemic, but with just a handful of passengers allowed on board each plane coming in, cancellations have been likely and prices steep.
Other packed flights coming into to Sydney tomorrow include planes from Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Canada, Fiji and the UAE.
The first flight out of Sydney is at 9.05am on Singapore Airlines to Singapore.
Melbourne Airport will also be busy next week.
The airport said 13 airlines are due to bring in as many as 34,000 passengers – with five more carriers bringing up to 94,000 a week, by Christmas.
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