AUSTRALIA have announced that they are finally reopening their borders after more than 18 months of tough draconian measures.
Since March 2020, the country has faced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns – despite the extremely low infection cases.
But on Friday, PM Scott Morrison said that fully-vaccinated citizens would now be able to travel home from next month – giving back long awaited freedoms to residents and their families.
“The time has come to give Australians their life back, Morrison said.
“We're getting ready for that, and Australia will be ready for take-off, very soon.”
He added that people would be eligible to travel when their state’s vaccination rate hit 80%.
Travel would not immediately be open to foreigners, but the government said it was working "towards welcoming tourists back to our shores" as airlines cautiously announced plans to restart charted flights.
However, unvaccinated Australians would still have to complete the mandatory 14-day – which has already cost numerous travellers A$3,000 (£1,600; $2,100) per head.
Since the pandemic began, Australian citizens have been the subject of measures that stopped citizens from leaving the country without an exceptional reason such as essential work or visiting a dying relative.
As a result, devastated families have been split across continents, with an estimated 30,000 nationals stranded overseas.
The internal crackdown has left the country in the grip facing more time inside then anywhere else.
One of the hardest hit regions, Melbourne, has spent a world record 242 days in lockdown having surpassed the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires on September 23.
It has prompted protests across the country which only recently saw 32 people arrested in Sydney and 256 fines handed out as anger continued to mount over the regime.
Thousands more have also protested in large rallies in Brisbane and Perth over the past month.
But protests quickly turned violent when demonstrators began hurling bottles, stones and other objects at police.
Commander Mark Galliott said "angry and aggressive young males" began throwing objects at cops, injuring 10 officers, six of which were rushed to hospital with serious injuries, including torn muscles, a broken elbow, nose and finger.
In Melbourne, 235 people were arrested, with 193 being link to direct breaches of Covid restrictions.
Elsewhere the crackdown on freedoms have stopped families saying goodbye to loved ones which, in once instance, saw police prevent mourners from watching funerals from their cars.
Grieving families who parked up at Rookwood cemetery in New South Wales desperately tried to catch a glimpse of their loved ones' funerals but were turned away by cops who enforced the country's strict Covid rules.
Under the current Covid rules only ten people are allowed to attend a funeral.
Devastated mourners told the Guardian that three families gathered at the cemetery, wearing face masks and practising social distancing to watch the funerals from their cars.
They said that suddenly around ten police vehicles turned up, knocked on their car windows, and instructed them to leave.
Tensions mounted as furious family members said if they could not even fulfill the Muslim traditions for their dead, then they at least wanted to watch the burials.
But cops insisted there were a "large number of attendees breaching current public health orders."
Four men were arrested during the incident.
'PRISON WAS BETTER'
The lockdown has also become so brutal it even drove Darko Desic, 64 – an escaped convict on the run for 30 years – to hand himself over to police after deciding life was better on the inside.
Desic was 13 months into a three-and-a-half year sentence when he sawed through his prison cell bars and escaped in the middle of the night in 1992.
But a few weeks ago he walked into a police station in Sydney and told baffled cops he wanted to go back to prison – because Australia's draconian lockdown had left him homeless.
Reports also emerged of cops confiscating beers being delivered to those stuck indoors.
Residents of the Common Ground housing estate complained packages with booze in them, sent by friends and relatives, were being searched before being delivered.
One resident, an artist with the Twitter handle Ms Saffaa, said: “Hey NSW Police, Common Ground residents are wondering what happened to the alcohol and tobacco items dropped off to them last night?
“And under which powers are you allowed to confiscate them? Last time I checked these are legal to consume in this country.
“A member of our community has delivered multiple hampers of fresh food, alcohol, and cigarettes, however the alcohol and some cigarette packs have been removed.
“NSW police are systematically searching our package, mail, and our belongings and now we have items missing.”
Another resident, Robin Elhaj, said: “They are searching all bags and things coming into the building. They confiscated a series of gifts.”
Residents are allowed to receive a ration of one of the following – six beers or pre-mixed drinks, one bottle of wine, or one 375ml bottle of spirits, news.com.au reports.
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