NSW will introduce a strict border zone with Victoria in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases south of the border.
From midnight on Tuesday, the border zone will restrict entry of Victorians to NSW to “extremely limited purposes”, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Sunday.
“Essentially, unless you’re travelling across the border in the border zone for education, health or employment, you shouldn’t be going.”
Mr Hazzard said the border zone would be “much narrower” but those most affected would be the community of Albury-Wodonga.
“The daily matters where people were able to cross back and forth will no longer be possible – you can’t just pop across to do your shopping. It has to be now for the three designated reasons.”
Heading to the shops, work or away for the weekend?
Take hand sanitiser, tissues & antibacterial wipes with you when leaving the house.
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— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) July 18, 2020
Mr Hazzard said the growing rates of community transmission in Victoria were behind the need for stricter border restrictions “making it harder to get a permit and easier to cancel them”.
The changes mean that NSW border residents will be restricted in their reasons for travelling into the Victoria side of the border zone.
And if they travel beyond the border zone into Victoria, they will be required to self-isolate upon return for 14 days.
Mr Hazzard said under the changes, border residents with a permit will only be able to cross into the other side of the border zone “to go to work or attend an education institution if they can’t work or learn from home, or to obtain medical care, supplies or health services”.
Under the new border permit requirements:
- Staff or students of boarding schools or universities are required to self-isolate for 14 days and obtain a negative swab before attending school
- People entering NSW for child access or care arrangements, and freight workers, are required to have a COVID safety plan
- Critical service workers are required to self-isolate when not providing those services
- Entry for medical or hospital services will only be allowed where those services are not available in Victoria, or can’t be accessed remotely
- Seasonal workers from Victoria are banned from entering NSW.
Mr Hazzard said the rules would give authorities greater enforcement powers to stop people entering NSW and to direct people who are not NSW residents to leave if they presented an unacceptable health risk.
“I make no apologies for taking the steps required to protect the health and jobs of NSW citizens,” he said.
The changes mean that any existing permits will expire at midnight on Tuesday, meaning those with current permits will have to reapply.