The Kiribati government's repatriation flights for citizens stranded abroad have recommenced after several months.
The first flight arrived yesterday, carrying i-Kiribati who had been stranded abroad since February when the pandemic closed borders.
The Fiji Airways charter flight brought in 62 citizens who have been tested and confirmed negative for covid-19.
Rimon said that due to Covid-19 prevention rules, locals weren't allowed near the airport to welcome family members home.
"Unfortunately no one could get close to anyone. Even the officials, the health officials and the airline officials on the ground, they were all wearing personal protection equipment and all that," he said.
The repatriation process is being carried out under a number of strict border settings and restrictions, including a 14 day mandatory quarantine upon arrival, imposed by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services because of the pandemic.
The number of passengers on future repatriation flights will vary depending on quarantine centre capacity at Bikenibeu on Tarawa.