Tasmania welcomes Vics, MONA to reopen

Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art will reopen on Boxing Day after closing in March.
Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art will reopen on Boxing Day after closing in March.

Tasmania's coronavirus-hit tourism sector has been given a shot in the arm with the arrival of Victorians and imminent reopening of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).

The island state on Friday dropped border restrictions with Victoria for the first time in more than eight months.

Hundreds of people were scheduled to arrive via 11 flights on Friday, although many were reuniting with loved ones.

It was announced Hobart's big-ticket attraction MONA will reopen on Boxing Day after shutting its doors in March.

Its galleries have undergone a revamp, while a seven-metre-high bronze sculpture with long limbs that doubles as a playground is among new installations.

"We are, of course, aware that we are reopening just before our tenth anniversary," MONA owner and founder David Walsh said.

"We've dug out some old stuff to commemorate our opening."

The gallery will be ticketed for the first time to ensure numbers are capped under COVID-19 protocols.

About 400 staff who were stood down will return to work.

"It's great for Tasmania. We're encouraging people to get out and explore Tasmania in general," MONA co-CEO Mark Wilsdon told reporters.

"The tourism industry has been hard-hit this year."

In the year to March, Victoria accounted for almost 45 per cent of Tasmania's domestic tourism.

MONA Director of Collections and Exhibitions, Nicole Durling, said it was exciting to be welcoming people back.

"What is art if there is no audience? Human beings are social beings, we want to be together and experience ideas together," she said.

Tasmania, which has gone more than 100 days without a virus case, shut its borders to mainland Australia in March, but is now open to all jurisdictions bar South Australia due to an Adelaide cluster.

An update from public health officials is expected in coming days.

Australian Associated Press