As states shut their borders to NSW over the growing coronavirus cluster in the Northern Beaches in Sydney, there are fears the border measures have not been adhered to at some locations due to a lack of enforcement.
Every state and territory has now blocked Greater Sydney residents from entering and some have turned away people living on the Central Coast and in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven regions.
However cars were crossing the NSW border into Victoria without being checked, according to a local mayor, after a state government request for additional Defence support received a limited response.
The Victorian government requested 200-300 Australian Defence Force personnel to help with planning, logistics and surveillance on Saturday night but Defence has so far only committed to 50 additional personnel.
"We are not pleased ... we are not happy that it seems that request has been turned down," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Monday.
"What that simply means is more members of Victoria Police and more SES volunteers will have to be on that border right throughout Christmas."
Victoria on Sunday announced it was shutting its border to people travelling from Greater Sydney and the NSW Central Coast over a growing coronavirus cluster.
Video of NSW-Victoria border shows delayed checkpoint
On early Monday afternoon, 7News journalist Josh Ribarich posted a video driving across the NSW-Victoria border entering Wodonga, where there was ostensibly no checkpoint monitoring motorists.
— Josh Ribarich (@josh_ribarich) December 21, 2020
“Is this a joke? What are they waiting for.. there will be no new cases by the time it’s set up,” one Twitter user reacted to the video.
Wodonga mayor Kevin Poulton said he crossed from his Albury home to Victoria in the regular 15 minutes without being stopped or checked by police.
"They're still putting their measures in place at the moment ... nothing was checked," Mr Poulton told 3AW Radio on Monday.
"It looks like they're working extremely hard to get themselves ready. They're setting up a fairly significant operation here."
Locals reported road blocks were implemented at the border later on Monday.
Health Minister Martin Foley on Monday said 700 police had been deployed to patrol the NSW border.
He said local government area bubbles had been established on either side of the Victorian-NSW boundary to allow those in border communities to cross upon presentation of their driver's licence.
Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said extra help from the ADF was crucial given policing was at its "busiest" in December.
Defence say they already have 235 personnel supporting Victoria's hotel quarantine program and any additional ADF backup will "not provide direct support to vehicle checkpoints on the NSW/Victoria border".
Mr Andrews said the border to NSW would remain closed for as long as Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton believes is "proportionate and appropriate".
He said anyone arriving at Melbourne Airport from Sydney who had just completed 14 days of hotel quarantine in NSW would not be required to repeat the process in Victoria, so long as they travel directly from hotel to airport while wearing a mask.
"There might be some testing and a short time you have to stay home, but we are not envisaging people having to do another two weeks of hotel quarantine if you're coming out of hotel quarantine," Mr Andrews said.
There are now a total of 83 cases confirmed in the Northern Beaches, putting the Christmas plans of people across the country in disarray.
All of the 15 new cases announced by NSW Health on Monday are linked to the Avalon cluster.
A record 38,500 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday.
Sydney hopeful virus measures can be eased
New alerts have been issued for Sydney venues visited by people infected with Covid-19.
NSW Health issued the alerts late on Monday for cinemas, restaurants, hotels, cafes and gyms at Mona Vale, Newport, Narrabeen and Warriewood, as well as the Avalon Beach RSL Club – all on the Northern Beaches.
Sydneysiders are hoping COVID-19 restrictions could be eased in time for Christmas after the daily tally of new cases fell, even though a record number of people got tested.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was too soon to tell what Christmas Day will look like.
A decision will be made on gatherings for Christmas Day when the NSW government cabinet meets on Wednesday.
Any decision on further restrictions will be based on the prevalence of COVID-19 outside of the Northern Beaches area, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.
"What we're interested in is making sure we don't see any further transmission that is not linked exactly to the Avalon cluster," she said on Monday.
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