Sydney (CNN) — When my plane finally touched down in Sydney, I was overwhelmed by a sense of disbelief.
After learning two of my family members had become seriously ill, I spent over six months planning what seemed like an impossible journey from Europe home to Australia.
A series of flight cancellations and hours spent reading horror stories from stranded citizens abroad who had lost jobs, visas and homes while waiting for a flight had left me convinced I would never make it.
Taking advantage of its geographic isolation, Australia closed its borders to international travelers early in the pandemic and barred most citizens from leaving. Under the current restrictions, only passport holders, permanent residents and those coming in on business or study exemptions are permitted to enter.
A hotel quarantine scheme run by state governments has been in place since March 2020, and it is widely regarded as playing a key role in Australia’s successful containment of Covid-19.