Following the recent introduction of a permit system for New South Wales residents wishing to enter Victoria, the Andrews government has again stepped up its response to the Northern Beaches coronavirus cluster that grew by 30 locally transmitted cases overnight.
Speaking at a press conference today, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the Victoria-New South Wales border will be tightened from 11.59pm tonight, December 20.
“We can’t take our position for granted,” he said.
“Experiences in other states, and certainly other parts of the world, show us that we have to be vigilant, every single one of us. So whilst we have every reason to be proud and pleased with the situation we’re in, it [coronavirus] is not gone. Even 51 days without a locally acquired case is not the same as a vaccine. So we all have to play our part.”
All of Greater Sydney and the Central Coast will become a “red” zone from tonight. Residents and travellers from these areas are barred from Victoria and face 14 days’ mandatory hotel quarantine if they enter via air. The Northern Beaches will become a “hot” zone – people who live there or have visited recently are also not permitted to travel to Victoria.
Victorian residents currently in Sydney will have an extra 24 hours to get home before hotel quarantine becomes mandatory. Victorians who come back before midnight, Monday December 21, must get tested for Covid within 24 hours and isolate at home for 14 days. After that date, all returning Victorians will be placed in mandatory hotel quarantine.
The premier acknowledged that the new rules will “mean significant inconvenience for many people” but stressed the need for them.
Seven-hundred members of Victoria Police will be deployed to the border. People entering Victoria by road must have a permit, and all past permits are now invalid. “Circumstances have changed – this is very dynamic,” Andrews said. People from Sydney, the Central Coast or Northern Beaches, or who have recently spent time in those places, won’t be granted a permit.
All other areas of New South Wales (i.e. not Greater Sydney or the Central Coast) will remain a “green” zone. All residents of local government areas that adjoin the Victoria-New South Wales border will have freedom of movement, creating a “bubble” of sorts.
This article’s headline was amended at 1.20pm on December 20. An earlier version misleadingly suggested that the Victoria-New South Wales border would be closed.