The first international tourists have arrived in Sydney as Australia’s borders reopened to the world after a two-year closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first of 56 international flights of vaccinated travellers arrived from the US early on Monday, to be greeted by an elated Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, holding a stuffed koala, Vegemite and Tim Tams.
“It’s a great day, a great day to be out here,” he told ABC TV.
“It is fantastic to be fully reopened to the rest of the world … it is party time,” he said.
Mr Tehan is confident the border re-opening will prompt “a very strong rebound in the tourism market”, and rejuvenate an industry that employs 660,000 people.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 testing of NSW schoolchildren will move to an on-demand basis from next week as the state further relaxes virus restrictions.
Students had been required to be tested twice a week, but will only need a test if they have symptoms or if necessary for other reasons.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Sunday parents will receive eight rapid antigen tests per student, to be distributed in two drops.
“The packs are there for families and staff to use at their discretion for their own peace of mind, for example, when a student is feeling unwell with a sore throat or cough, or if family members are sick,” he said.
Teachers and early childhood staff will also receive the free tests.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said no schools have been closed since students returned this year, despite the levels of community transmission.
“Testing children twice a week was not an easy task and I’d like to thank all of the parents and carers for their efforts in these critical first few weeks of term,” she said.
NSW has recently scrapped QR code check-ins and the ban on singing and dancing in hospitality venues, as part of a broader push to relax COVID-19 restrictions after daily case numbers fell.
The requirement to wear face masks will mostly end on Friday, with the mask mandate to remain for public transport, airports and planes, as well as in hospitals, aged and disability care facilities.
Masks will also still be required to enter prisons and for indoor music festivals with more than 1000 people.
The state recorded 5582 cases of COVID-19 and 21 deaths on Sunday.