Australians were allowed to return home after COVID-19 border closures as international travel resumes to Sydney and Melbourne

Sydney Airport will once again be the scene of heartwarming reunions and joyful departures as New South Wales and Victoria open their international borders.

It is more than 20 months ago that Australia slammed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic – which banned most citizens from leaving the country and imposes incoming passenger ceilings and expensive hotel quarantine for those wishing to return.

But from tomorrow, Australians will once again be allowed to take overseas holidays, and quarantine requirements will be scrapped for fully vaccinated Australians flying to Sydney or Melbourne.

As soon as Melanie Orvis heard that the rules had changed, she ordered a plane home from London – a city she has been trying to get home from for several months.

“A few weeks ago, when NSW changed their rules, my dad called me and I booked my flight right away,” Orvis said.

A woman is standing next to a red telephone box
Melanie Orvis booked her flights as soon as the rules changed.(Delivered)

“I’m originally from Melbourne, but even just coming to Sydney felt like a victory.”

With his work visa expiring, the 28-year-old has been trying to get on the federal government-run repatriation flights since June, but they were instantly sold out.

“Being essentially locked out of my home and my country has felt a lot like rejection and betrayal,” she said.

“On the first page of our passports it says we should never have a problem returning home no matter what, and that was not the case.”

But she said she would not completely relax until she was back on Australian soil.

“There’s a part of me that expects something to change and be left heartbroken again,” she said.

“Being reunited will feel so surreal, but it will be the best feeling in the world.

“I just can not wait to give my family the biggest hug, meet family members who were born in the pandemic for the first time and see my friends.”

Losalini Kelei, 51, will be able to return to Fiji for her father’s 80th birthday with her 19-year-old daughter, but she’s so worried about COVID-19 changing her plans that she has not bought one. return ticket.

A small portion of the woman in southern Sydney is worried that they will be stuck over there after being flown over in January.

“I’m trying to have common sense, and I’ve been wondering if I should take my laptop for safety,” Ms Kelei said.

She has felt separated from her home for the past 20 months. Fiji is the only place in the world where she does not keep track of time.

“It’s a catch up with the family and relaxing, but one of the things I appreciate about returning is that I don’t have to carry my watch,” she said.

“I do not have to worry about what time it is and I do not feel guilty about it.”

Losalini and Elani Kelei
Southwestern Sydney Losalini and Elani Kelei bought tickets to Fiji in January.

Alexandra Koster has never met her almost two-year-old nephew Patrick, who was born in Seattle just two months before Australia closed its borders.

His Australian parents Elisabeth and Laughlan Davies could no longer bring him home to visit to meet the family as planned, so his Australian relatives had to get to know him via video call.

But as soon as the travel ban was lifted, the toddler’s aunt Ally booked a flight to Seattle, and she will soon set sail to spend about five weeks with him.

“I just realized you do not have that much time to see him and build that kind of bond when he is still small,” Ms. Koster said.

“I want to take care of him while Elisabeth works, I’m just excited to take him to playgrounds and coffee shops and all the daily stuff.”

one woman is holding a small child and two other women are smiling
Mrs. Koster, right, will finally meet her two-year-old nephew, Patrick, when she travels to Seattle.(Delivered)

Mrs Koster said the highlight of the trip would be when Patrick’s Australian grandmother joined them in December.

“The plan is for us all to go to Disneyland for Pat’s birthday,” she said.

She described the feeling of being able to travel again as surreal.

“It does not feel quite right that I take over, I still expect something to happen, just like planes will be canceled,” she said.

Ms. Koster is fully vaccinated, but said she was also concerned about the possibility of getting COVID in the United States.

“How would that affect things, what if I could not get my plane home and had to isolate myself over there, something like that,” she said.

Some unrest over the changed rules and regulations is a common thread for travelers who have spoken to ABC.

Retiree Ray McDonald and his British wife Val share their time between Melbourne and the UK.

They returned to the UK at the start of the pandemic but will fly back to Melbourne this week to see McDonald’s elderly mother and his grandchildren up for Christmas.

“While the quarantine was in place, I would only have returned to Australia in the event of a family emergency,” McDonald said.

As the rules changed, Mr McDonald immediately booked flights to return to Melbourne this week to see the family in the run-up to Christmas.

But he has unsuccessfully tried to figure out how Victoria will facilitate and monitor his requirement that all travelers have a COVID test within 24 hours of arriving in Victoria.

“In my opinion, it appears that the various federal and state governments have made the announcement without having a communication plan in place for travelers seeking up-to-date information on what is required of them,” he said.

“I take a leap of faith and hope it will be sorted out when I travel on November 4th.”

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