Victoria ramps up border restrictions Sydney grapples with growing coronavirus cases

- December 20, 2020 4 MIN READ
Sydney, storm
Victoria will ban Sydneysiders from entering the state from midnight on Sunday, unless they undertake a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and the state’s health department have upgraded the Greater Sydney area and Central Coast to a ‘red zone’, which means anyone who lives in these communities, or visited the area 11 December 11, 2020, cannot enter Victoria.

With the shoe now on the other state’s foot as 30 new locally acquired cases involving the outbreak on Sydney’s Northern Beaches region through Christmas plans into chaos nationally, Victorian authorities did not mince words saying “without mandatory mask rules and stay at home orders across Sydney, our Government and state’s health authorities do not have confidence that the situation remains safe”.

Victorians who recently visited or are currently in Greater Sydney and the Central Coast, have an extra 24 hours to make it home –  until 11:59pm, Monday, December 21, – but must self-quarantine for 14 days at home.

Greater Sydney was previously classified as an ‘orange zone’ with residents outside of the Northern Beaches allowed to enter the state up until midnight this evening under the permit system introduced on Friday evening.

The Northern Beaches area will be elevated to a ‘hot zone’. Victorians in the Northern Beaches area remain subject to the NSW’s Chief Health Officer’s stay at home orders and will not be permitted to enter Victoria.

The rest of regional New South Wales remains a green zone, but residents in these areas will still need to apply for and receive a valid permit to enter Victoria.

Premier Andrews said the move was necessary.

“From midnight tonight all of Greater Sydney and the Central Coast is a red zone — you cannot come to Victoria. If you do then you will have to hotel quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

“We know keeping families apart is an especially hard ask this close to Christmas. But Victorians have given up too much for us not to take this seriously.

“Without significant additional action to slow the spread of the virus in New South Wales, we believe these measures are necessary to keeping Victoria safe.”

People living in local government areas along the border will not need a permit but will instead be able to use their driver’s license as a passport to travel between Victoria and NSW.

The government has sought logistical support from the Australian Defence Force to establish and manage  check points along the border

Fines for entering Victoria without a valid permit or exemption exceed, $1,652, with false information on permits leading to a fine of $1,652 or penalty of up to $9,913.

Information on the permit system is on the Service Victoria website.

Sydney restrictions

Meanwhile, the NSW government is introducing tougher restrictions across the Greater Sydney region from midnight Sunday.

They include:

  • Household gatherings will be limited to 10 visitors (until 11:59pm Wednesday 23 December).
  • The one person per four square metre rule will be re-introduced for all indoor settings including hospitality venues and places of worship.
  • A cap of 300 people will apply for hospitality venues and places of worship.
  • Singing and chanting at indoor venues will not be allowed.
  • Dancefloors will not be permitted, except for weddings, when a maximum of 20 from the bridal party will be permitted.

The Northern Beaches region has been in lockdown since 5pm Saturday, with people only allowed to leave their homes for four essential reasons:

  • shopping for food or other goods and services
  • medical care or compassionate needs
  • exercise
  • work or education, where you cannot work from home.

People in the Greater Sydney area and the Central Coast, Illawarra-Shoalhaven, and Nepean Blue Mountains, are also asked not to visit aged care facilities until 11:59pm on Wednesday, December 23, unless it is critical.

‘Stay at home’ orders for residents in the Northern Beaches Local Government area will also continue until 11:59pm on Wednesday, December 23.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government intends to provide further advice for the community ahead of Christmas.

“We realise the effect this will have on residents and venues, and hope to lift the cap and restrictions as soon as possible,” she said.

“But we must take this action now to ensure we keep on top of this outbreak.”

More information on the cluster is available here.

Borders closed

For Sydney residents hoping to head interstate for Christmas, the news is not good.

Western Australia has closed its border to everyone from NSW from midnight Saturday.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall put in a “hard border” for Sydney residents.

“As of midnight tonight anybody who has been in the Greater Sydney area will be required to complete 14 days of suitable quarantine on arrival,” he said.

“They will need to have testing on arrival, plus on day five and on day 12.”

Tasmania is already insisting people from Sydney quarantine for 14 days – in their own home if they have one, or in a hotel at their own cost.

Race officials cancelled the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race yesterday for the first time in its 76 year history.

Around 150 of the crew due to compete in the race – around a third of the sailors – came from Sydney’s hot spot region, making the race unviable since they would need to either turn around and sail back home without making land, or quarantine for 14 days.

While Queensland did not initially shut its border, late on Sunday, the state introduced restrictions similar to Victoria. As of 1am today, Dec 21, residents of Greater Sydney are locked out of Sydney unless the do a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.  Queensland residents have until 1am December 22 to get back home before the border slams shut. Anyone from or who visited Sydney’s Northern Beaches region since December 11, already in the state, is required to get a Covid-19 test and quarantine at home or in accommodation until 14 days pass since they left the area.

The Northern Territory also insists anyone who visited the Northern Beaches undertake a 14-day mandatory quarantine. The cost is $2500.