With another spike in Sydney’s Northern Beaches cluster expected today, several states have tightened their border rules overnight to try to avoid yet another wave of COVID-19 cases in the lead-up to Christmas.
New South Wales confirmed 13 new cases yesterday, taking the total number linked to the cluster to 39.
As of midnight, Western Australia has reintroduced its hard border with NSW. As of 1am, all NSW travellers to Queensland must now complete a border pass declaration. Victoria has extended its restriction zone, and is expected to make further announcements later this morning.
To date, here is how each state and territory is tackling the border issue and dealing with Christmas travel in response to the Northern Beaches outbreak.
At 5pm yesterday, the local government area of the Northern Beaches went into the March version of lockdown — residents can only leave home for four reasons: to shop for food, work, visit a sick relative or on compassionate grounds. People are also permitted to exercise.
This area has a population of about 250,000 people.
It is due to end at midnight on Wednesday, but that date could change if the situation worsens. Alerts have been issued on a list of venues where visitors risked exposure, with NSW Health demanding people either watch for symptoms, stay home until they receive a negative test, or self-isolate for two weeks regardless of their test result.
The wider Sydney region has been asked to limit their movements as well and avoid any non-essential travel.
Premier Gladys Berejkilian said it is possible the state will put more restrictions in place if the cluster cannot be controlled.
Anyone in NSW experiencing even the mildest symptoms has been urged to get tested.
Western Australia reinstated its hard border with NSW as of midnight. Premier Mark McGowan last night announced that NSW was now a “medium risk” state.
Arrivals from NSW without a legitimate exemption could now well be turned back at the border or the airport, Mr McGowan said.
Those who arrived before midnight will be quarantined for 14 days. Anybody who has been in NSW since December 11 and has not since stayed 14 days in a low-risk or very-low-risk jurisdiction will also be barred from the state.
Exemptions are available for government officials, Commonwealth MPs, active military personnel, and people carrying out crucial transport.
“This is not what anyone wanted just days before Christmas,” Mr McGowan said, adding that he hoped the reinstated hard border would only be active for a short time, but that its imposition was currently open-ended.
Victorian health authorities held an emergency meeting last night, to decide if the border would be closed to all residents from greater Sydney.
COVID-19 restrictions have so far been extended to the NSW Central Coast, now an “orange zone” under Victoria’s “traffic light” permit system:
- Red Zone – Northern Beaches and hotspot locations since December 11: permits not available, travellers not permitted to enter
- Amber Zone – Greater Sydney area and Central Coast: permits available, but all travellers must get tested and isolate until they get a result
- Green Zone – regional NSW: permits granted, get tested if symptoms develop
Any people entering Victoria in coming days, or who have already entered Victoria and who have visited the Central Coast since December 19, must now get tested and isolate immediately until they receive a negative result.
Anyone who has visited Sydney COVID-19 hotspots will have to quarantine for two weeks if they enter Victoria.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria Police are making preparations for checkpoints and will be requesting defence force support.
Further announcements will be made this morning.
The Queensland government is keeping its border with NSW open for now – but new restrictions have been announced.
As of 1am, anybody looking to cross into Queensland from New South Wales now has to fill out a border pass declaration.
People travelling from the Central Coast and Greater Sydney areas will be asked to take a test on arrival, then to quarantine until they return a negative result.
And travellers from the locked-down Northern Beaches will have to apply for an exemption and, if one is granted, they will need to undergo two weeks in hotel quarantine.
The NSW border to South Australia remains open as people rush to rejoin families and loved ones for Christmas.
Thousands of people are set to fly between Sydney and Adelaide in the coming days, but so far South Australia has only imposed restrictions on travellers from Sydney’s hotspots and from the Northern Beaches.
Those who visited coronavirus hotspot locations are barred from entry, while anybody from the Northern Beaches needs to self-isolate for two weeks.
Those arriving in Adelaide are being greeted by police, who conduct checks to make sure they have not visited any hotspots. Authorities are continuing to review the situation, with a border closure possible if the cluster spreads in Sydney.
Tasmania has declared all of Greater Sydney to be a “medium risk” area, meaning new arrivals will have to quarantine for 14 days.
The Tasmanian government last night ordered that the whole city be regarded as risky due to the Northern Beaches outbreak (which in Tasmania remains a “high-risk” area). Anybody already in Tasmania who had been in Greater Sydney 14 days prior to their arrival should monitor their health and contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to arrange a test if they develop any cold or flu symptoms.
People looking to travel to Tasmania who have been in Greater Sydney in the 14 days prior to their arrival will be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days on arrival.
Essential travellers can apply for an exemption from quarantine, but may be subject to other conditions including testing and health monitoring.
The Northern Territory has declared Sydney’s Northern Beaches a coronavirus hotspot and will force any travellers from the area to quarantine immediately.
“Anyone travelling to the Northern Territory from Northern Beaches Council LGA will need to undertake 14 days of mandatory, supervised quarantine in either Alice Springs or Darwin,” the Department of Chief Minister and Cabinet said in a statement on Thursday night.
“If you are intending to travel to the Northern Territory from an identified COVID-19 hotspot you are advised to rethink your plans.
“If you travel to Northern Beaches Council LGA while it is a declared hotspot, you will be required to undertake 14 days mandatory, supervised quarantine on your return at a cost of $2500 per person.
“Anyone who has already arrived in the Northern Territory from Northern Beaches Council LGA on or after December 11 needs to arrange for a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine whilst awaiting the test results.”
Chief Health Officer Dr Hugh Heggie said the new restrictions had “been made rapidly” and decisions in the coming days will be critical to contain the Sydney cluster.