Western Australia ends one of the world’s longest border closures

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(CNN) — After 697 days, the state of Western Australia has finally reopened, ending one of the longest border closures in the world.

Western Australia (WA) closed its borders to domestic and international visitors on April 5, 2020.

According to information from CNN affiliate Sky News, the first two flights to arrive in the state capital, Perth, once border restrictions were officially lifted on March 3, were from Sydney and Singapore.

Both flights arrived shortly after midnight, and many of the passengers were Australian citizens who were finally able to visit family and loved ones for the first time since the pandemic began.

Sky adds that around 5,000 people are expected to arrive in Western Australia in the first 24 hours of the border reopening and 27,800 in the following days.

“Western Australians have lived lives that would have been unimaginable anywhere else in the world, without fear of Covid-19, especially the elderly and the immunocompromised,” wrote state Premier Mark McGowan, in a Facebook message before the reopening. He called WA an “island within an island” due to its strict measures and relative isolation.

McGowan acknowledged the cost of staying closed has been high, sharing that his parents live in New South Wales.

“I understand what it means to be disconnected from family, I know how difficult it can be,” McGowan wrote. “And for that, I am so grateful to these West Australians for their sacrifice to help keep our entire state safe.”

To visit Western Australia, travelers must apply online for a G2G pass in advance and present the pass upon arrival at a land, air or sea border.

All international travelers must have received at least two doses of an approved coronavirus vaccine to visit WA, while domestic Australian visitors must have received three.

Top image: Returning international passengers are greeted upon arrival at the Perth International Airport terminal on March 3, 2022. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

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