New South Wales will temporarily shut its border with Victoria to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
The closure will be effective from 12.01am Wednesday, 8 July and follows the concerning spread of Covid-19 in Melbourne.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the decision was made after consulting with the NSW Chief Health Officer and discussions with the Prime Minister and Victorian Premier Dan Andrews.
“The people of NSW have done an incredible job to help stop the spread of Covid-19, allowing us to open up our economy,” said Berejiklian.
“The outbreak of cases we are seeing in Victoria is putting these gains at risk.
“I do not take this step lightly, but have always said we will do what we must to protect the health and jobs of NSW residents,” she said.
Berejiklian stressed the border closure is a temporary measure.
“As I have said before, it is in our national interest for borders to be open,” said Berejiklian.
Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, said the swift action is necessary to protect NSW residents and to assist Victoria in their attempts to bring the outbreak under control.
“We must remain flexible throughout this ongoing pandemic and adjust our strategies as the threat grows and recedes,” said Hazzard.
“This is not the first spike and it is unlikely to be the last,” he said.
NSW residents returning from a Melbourne hotspot are already required to go into 14 days of self-isolation. This requirement will be extended to anyone returning from Victoria. This will be backed by heavy penalties and fines.
There will be provisions in place for residents of border regions, such as Albury-Wodonga.
Special conditions will be in place for freight operations and other critical services.
NSW Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller, said a hard border would be established at appropriate locations to enforce the border closure.
“The NSW Police Force is ready to step up, 400 police officers plus other agencies are preparing to enforce the closure of the NSW and Victorian border,” said Fuller.
NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the measure will ensure NSW citizens are protected, and she urged residents here to remain vigilant and continue to present for testing.
“The Victorian increase in community transmission has been particularly worrying,” said Dr Chant.
“This is a warning for NSW that the pandemic is not over,” she said.
Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO, Peter Anderson, said the VTA has been engaging with governments and the freight industry about the decision to close the Victorian border with NSW.
“As we have experienced with other jurisdictions, the freight transport industry will be excluded from the closure with freight and logistics being an essential service.
“A permit or exemption will be required for all persons entering NSW carrying out essential work. These will be achievable online with the exact web address yet to be defined.
“With the Hume Highway being one of the world’s busiest freight corridors, we are grateful the freight industry is able to continue working to keep supply chains and the economy moving,” he said.
The VTA will be advocating to ensure that border crossings processes are the same at every crossing and that freight delays are minimal.
“We will continue to keep our members updated on any new border crossing procedures, and that they take steps to ensure their drivers are not reporting to work if they are unwell, to get tested for Covid-19 if they experience symptoms and understand their responsibility in managing this pandemic,” said Anderson.