SYDNEY — Live bands played, tears flowed, and people embraced in mask-free hugs, as New Zealand and Australia were reunited Monday after a more than a year-long separation.
In one of the world’s first experiments in reopening borders, the first quarantine-free flight from Australia landed in New Zealand on Monday, reciprocating a half-bubble in place since October that allowed New Zealand visitors to fly the other way.
The separation has been keenly felt because the two countries normally are close. More than half a million New Zealanders live in Australia, and citizens of each country have working rights in the other. They share a mutual love of sports such as rugby and cricket, with players regularly crossing between the two countries to compete. Before the pandemic, Australia was New Zealand’s largest source of international tourists.