The first plane from Australia landed in New Zealand after a travel bubble between the two countries came into effect on April 19, meaning passengers won’t have to enter quarantine after arriving.
Ground staff at Auckland airport held up signs reading “welcome home” and “kia ora” — Maori for “hello” or “good health” — as the plane taxied to the gate.
The resumption of quarantine-free travel was a relief for families who have been separated during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as for the struggling tourism industry.
Australia had previously allowed New Zealanders to arrive without going into quarantine but New Zealand had taken a more cautious approach, requiring travelers from Australia to isolate for two weeks upon arrival.
The idea of a bubble between the neighbors had been discussed for months, but faced setbacks because of several minor virus outbreaks in both countries, which were eventually stamped out.
Australia and New Zealand both managed to largely keep the coronavirus out by implementing strict quarantine requirements for inbound travelers.