States shut borders to NSW, Vic travellers

Andi Yu
·3-min read

State and territories have continued to tighten their borders as more coronavirus cases emerge in NSW and Victoria.

The ACT has shut out NSW residents from the northern beaches, greater Sydney, the central coast and Wollongong unless they have an exemption. Those found entering without permission could be fined up to $8000.

ACT residents staying in NSW can still return home but need to notify the territory's health department of their plans via an online form and then quarantine for 14 days.

Tasmania has barred anyone directly linked to the latest Victorian virus cases, listing exposure sites where confirmed cases are known to have been.

The locations rated "high risk" include a Thai restaurant in Melbourne's southeastern suburb of Black Rock, which is linked to multiple positive cases.

The move followed Tasmania's declaration of greater Sydney and the Wollongong area as medium-risk zones, requiring travellers to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, while those from Sydney's northern beaches are barred from entering.

Victoria recorded 10 new cases of community transmission on Saturday, all linked to the restaurant.

Two of the cases were reported on Friday but counted on Saturday - a pair who ate at the restaurant on December 21 but were not contacted by Victorian authorities until 10 days later.

Victoria's border is now closed to all travellers from NSW after its deadline of 11.59pm on Friday for residents to come home without having to go into quarantine.

Testing sites in Melbourne and surrounds saw long queues and delays as thousands rushed to get tested.

Victoria had gone 60 days without community transmission when the first few NSW-linked cases were reported on Wednesday.

NSW recorded seven new community cases on Saturday and Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced face masks would be mandatory for many indoor settings.

She had previously opposed the idea but said the change of heart balanced the health risk and security of citizens while allowing businesses to operate.

The Australian Medical Association commended the decision after calling for mandatory mask-wearing since the start of the northern beaches outbreak.

Western Australia reimposed a hard border with NSW on December 19 and then with Victoria on Thursday. The state recorded three new cases in overseas travellers on Saturday.

The Northern Territory has revised its public health orders and barred entry for all greater Sydney residents.

The NT recorded seven new positive cases on Saturday among Australians who came in on repatriation flights - one from London and six from Chennai, India.

South Australia has re-established its hard border with NSW, along with a 100-kilometre buffer for border communities. SA authorities are communicating with travellers about Victorian exposure sites via text message.

Queensland's border is closed to anyone who has been in the COVID-declared hotspots of greater Sydney and surrounding areas in the past 14 days.

The state has not yet imposed border restrictions on Victorians but Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said on Saturday she was "very concerned" at how the situation was escalating.

Queensland confirmed one new overseas-acquired case of COVID-19 on Saturday and maintained its streak of no community transmission.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday he respected the decisions of state and territory leaders to shut their borders but understood why people had been left frustrated.

"We must respect (the states') jurisdictional authority," he said.

The federal government had previously aimed for Australia to be fully open by Christmas.