The border between Australia’s two most populous states reopened after a 138-day pandemic-triggered closure at one minute after midnight on Monday.
For the first time since July 8, residents from Victoria and New South Wales could move quarantine-free between the two states.
Local media reported that a DJ was set up at the main road between the states’ neighbouring regional towns Wodonga and Albury, playing music as the first cars passed through at 12:01 am.
National broadcaster ABC published pictures of celebratory scenes at Sydney airport, with drag queens and shirtless Bondi Beach lifeguards greeting passengers as the first flights from Melbourne touched down.
Before the coronavirus pandemic struck, Sydney to Melbourne was the second-busiest flight route in the world.
Airlines Qantas and Jetstar sold more 25,000 seats in the first 48 hours after it was announced earlier in the month that the border restrictions would be lifted.
Victoria had been at the centre of the country’s second wave of the pandemic, which sent the state into a strict lockdown when new daily infections were topping 700.
Melbourne – a city of 4.9 million residents – was under “stay at home” orders for 112 days. The state has seen a Covid-19-free streak since lifting restrictions in late October.
On Monday, Victoria recorded its 24th consecutive day without a new Covid-19 infection and now only has one active case.
The most populous state of New South Wales has recorded 16 days without a new locally-acquired coronavirus case.
Last week, South Australia announced a six-day “circuit breaker” lockdown after a sudden spike in cases.
The restrictions were dropped three days earlier than expected after it emerged that a person who tested positive for the virus misled contact tracers.
On Monday the state recorded just one new Covid-19 case, taking the total cases linked to the recent outbreak to 27.
Australia, a nation of around 25 million people, has recorded just over 27,800 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic – significantly fewer per capita than most developed countries.
The country has taken a lockdown approach combined with rigorous testing and tracing to contain the virus.
The national death toll is 907 with 819 from Victoria.