Police have issued a stern warning to Victorians thinking of trying to sneak across the NSW border after it closes at midnight tonight.
The closure will come just hours after Victoria announced 191 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday amid the state’s surge in infections.
More than 650 NSW police officers are heading to the border, with another 400 Army personnel to join over the weekend, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
With 55 crossings between the two states, police will also be relying on using planes and drones to patrol the areas of concern.
NSW residents heading into Victoria will not be checked. Victorians will be required to spend 14 days in a hotel if they travel to NSW. Returning NSW residents will also need to quarantine for 14 days.
Anyone caught attempting to cross the border without the appropriate permit will face “dire consequences”, NSW Police Minister David Elliott said.
“If you want to do the wrong thing, you'll be caught. I want to make sure everyone knows we're serious when it comes to issuing these fines. They'll be monetary, and there could be custodial punishments.
“There are going to be dire consequences for anybody who wants to endanger the health and wellbeing of our citizens,” he said during the press conference.
Commissioner Fuller said he expects a small percentage of the population will try, and urged people to apply for permit approval if they need to cross the border for work or medical reasons.
Rush for border crossing permits
An image posted online by an ABC reporter shows a large crowd of people gathering at the entrance of the Service NSW office in Albury with the hope of obtaining a permit.
Two probable coronavirus cases are being investigated in the Albury area.
NSW Health on Monday evening said the two cases had returned positive results on preliminary testing in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District.
The department on Tuesday said the two cases were undergoing further testing but had not yet been included in the state's confirmed case load.
NSW Health is setting up a pop-up clinic in Albury from Tuesday and is urging residents in the area with even mild symptoms to get tested.
NSW-Victoria border to be closed for weeks
Minister Elliott said he expects the border closure to continue “for weeks”.
“I think you are talking weeks, rather than days. I think you can probably assume with the effort put into a deployment like this, a couple of weeks, but always the requirement for us to review every single day as to how far ahead we plan the population.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said the border would not reopen until community transmission in Melbourne had dropped to a sustainable level.
Meanwhile, NSW residents who return from anywhere in Victoria will from Wednesday be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
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