Hundreds of families have been reunited with their loved ones after Western Australia‘s hard border was finally been eased.
There were emotional scenes at Perth Airport as 11 interstate flights full of 1,300 passengers landed on Saturday.
The scenes come seven months after Western Australia closed its borders and cut themselves off to the rest of the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Families cried as they hugged each other for the first time since March.
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Family members look on waiting for passengers arriving from Brisbane on Qantas flight QF937 at Perth Airport on Saturday
Hundreds of people have finally been reunited with their loved ones as Western Australia’s hard border has finally been eased. Pictured: Passengers are greeted by family members after arriving from Adelaide on Saturday
West Australian cricket player Cameron Gannon is greeted by his daughter after arriving from Adelaide on Qantas flight QF889 at Perth Airport on Saturday
Passengers from Brisbane are greeted by family members after arriving at Perth domestic Airport on Saturday
Emotional passengers cried when they were reunited on Saturday after arriving in Perth from a flight from Adelaide
Heartwarming images show families in tears as they held each other for the first time in months.
By mid-morning 205 people had crossed into the state from South Australia and a further 97 had entered from the Northern Territory.
Only people coming from NSW or Victoria will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days and have a coronavirus test on day 11.
But all travellers will be asked to complete an online declaration and will be screened, including a temperature check, when they arrive.
So far about 3,000 people have applied online to return to WA since the system went live late on Friday night.
Authorities have said the new arrangements could cause delays and have asked for people to be patient as the state transitions to a controlled border arrangement.
Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Steel said the processes were necessary to allow people to return to the state but still keep COVID-19 at bay.
There were emotional scenes at Perth Airport as 11 interstate flights full of 1,300 passengers landed on Saturday
The reunions come seven months after Western Australia closed its borders and cut themselves off to the rest of the country due to the coronavirus pandemic on April 5
Western Australia’s hard border transitioned to a controlled interstate border as of 12:01 on Saturday, with travellers from Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT now permitted to enter
‘Don’t expect that you can just get off an aircraft and walk through,’ he said.
‘This is the new COVID normal. This is what we are doing to keep our community safe.
‘We make no apologies for that because the state expects that their authorities will be doing what they can to keep COVID out.
‘We’ll be as efficient and effective as we can.’
The airport had rigorous policies to keep passengers safe, including makeshift COVID-19 testing sites and temperature checks on arrival.
Arriving passengers are warned all procedures will take time and to expect delays.
Announcing the change on Friday Premier Mark McGowan said the state was ‘ready to take the next step forward’.
Perth airport was full of emotions on Saturday as family members were reunited after spending more than seven months apart
Passengers arriving from Brisbane are seen embracing their family member after arriving in Perth on Saturday
Heartwarming images show families in tears as they hold each other for the first time in months
Families cried as they hugged each other for the first time since before March while the airport was filled with kisses and reunions
‘Our controlled interstate border is a cautious and safe step. It is balanced and sensible,’ he said.
‘The time is right.’
WA has been closed to the rest of the nation for seven months, including to West Australians who were denied entry for compassionate reasons.
‘Everyone who has waited patiently can feel proud,’ Mr McGowan said.
‘Your patience, your understanding, your sacrifice has all played a part in our state’s extraordinary success.’
Even as the rules are eased, police have warned anyone failing to disclose recently travelling through NSW or Victoria faces a large fine or potential imprisonment.
Mr Steel said there was an element of trust with the new arrangements.
‘We have always asked people to comply with their quarantine requirements and in the main, people entering Western Australia, have done so,’ he said.
A young women is seen emotional while waiting for her mother to land in Perth from Brisbane on Saturday
WA has been closed to the rest of the nation for seven months, including to West Australians who were denied entry for compassionate reasons
West Australian cricket player Liam O’Connor has his temperature checked prior to G2G verification after arriving from Adelaide on Qantas flight QF889 at Perth Airport
Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Steel said the processes were necessary to allow people to return to the state but still keep COVID-19 at bay
‘However those people who disregard their quarantine requirements should expect to be dealt with in accordance with the law.’
The quarantine rules for NSW and Victoria will only be removed once they go at least 28 days with no community spread, as all other jurisdictions have achieved.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced that all states except for Western Australia plan to open for travel by Christmas.
All states and territories have supported a plan to get the country open again by Christmas but Mr McGowan, who faces an election in March, has refused to take part.
‘I don’t believe in an artificial deadline,’ Mr McGowan said.
‘We’re going to be guided by health. Christmas is important but the health of Western Australians is more important.’
What are the border restrictions?
New South Wales: Will open to VIC on 23 November. Open to everywhere else
Victoria: No restrictions
Queensland: Exemption required if coming from VIC or Greater Sydney. Review on 30 November
South Australia: Open to VIC from 1 December. Open to everywhere else
Tasmania: Will open to VIC on 27 November. Open to everywhere else
Western Australia: From 14 November everyone allowed but residents from NSW and VIC must self-quarantine
ACT: Will open to VIC on 23 November. Open to everywhere else
Northern Territory: People from Greater Melbourne must quarantine at their own expense. Open to everywhere else
Australia: Only people who have been in New Zealand for 14 days can enter without hotel quarantine