NSW Government Has Warned Sydneysiders Not to Visit Towns Near the Victorian Border
With Victorian COVID-19 cases spiking, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said there is an "extremely high" possibility of increased cases here.
Since June 1, when regional travel across NSW was allowed once again, Sydneysiders have had (pretty much) free rein of NSW. But, today, Wednesday, July 8, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned against travel to (and from) some regional towns as COVID-19 cases spike in Victoria.
While a large swathe of Victoria is reentering lockdown from midnight tonight and the Victoria-NSW border has closed (for the first time in 100 years), Premier Berejiklian has said that the possibility of contagion in NSW is "extremely high". "We are in a high-risk situation and I don't want to see the good work we've done in New South Wales undone," the Premier said at a press conference today.
To help mitigate the risk of increased infections in NSW, the Government is effectively sealing off towns on the Victorian border. "If you live in a border community and you're a New South Wales resident, please do not travel outside your border community at this time," the Premier said. "If you are a New South Wales resident outside of those border communities, please do not go to those communities unless you absolutely have to."
While no public health orders have been put in place preventing travel to or from these towns as yet, the Premier has not ruled the possibility of this happening in the near future. "I will stress that the government is considering what further action we take to make sure the bubble, as we call it, of those border communities is maintained."
Exactly what towns are considered "border communities" has not been set in stone, but the NSW Government is encouraging Sydneysiders to use their commonsense. "Border community means a community that a reasonable person would consider to be a community located at or near the border," is the definition used in the newly published border control public health order. In the press conference earlier today, the Premier mentioned Albury and Wagga Wagga, as well as Merimbula, where there is a returned traveller from Victoria who has tested positive and is currently in isolation.
At the moment, the border between Victoria and NSW is closed — as of midnight on Tuesday, July 7 — and those who want to enter from Victoria, including NSW residents, will need to apply for a permit via Service NSW. The NSW Government has said patrolling the border will be a "mammoth task" as there are 55 border crossings, including four main roads, 33 bridges, two waterways and multiple smaller roads, across 11 local government areas and five police districts.
Those who cross without a permit, or do not follow the permit rules, could be hit with an $11,000 fine and spend up to six months in jail.
For more information about the new border restrictions and the status of COVID-19 in NSW, head to the NSW Government website.
Top image: A town near the NSW-Victorian border by Denisbin via Flickr.
Published on July 08, 2020 by Samantha Teague