Checkpoints are being rebuilt on the NSW border into Queensland amid growing concerns about the Northern Beaches outbreak in Sydney.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has ordered people from greater Sydney into 14-day quarantine on arrival in Queensland to stop the NSW capital’s COVID-19 outbreak from spreading.
She said people had been caught trying to get into Queensland without quarantining, so the NSW border would shut from 6am on Tuesday.
“There will be a hard border closure that will be going in place,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Monday.
“People will start to seeing barricades going up again this afternoon [Monday] and it will be back to the strong border measures that we have seen in Queensland that have kept Queenslanders safe.”
Queenslanders in the NSW capital have until 1am on Tuesday to get home, but they will need to be tested for COVID-19 and go into self-isolation on arrival.
Greater Sydney residents already in Queensland before the quarantine cut off have been ordered to self-isolate and get tested as well.
“Whatever your family tradition is, it is an incredibly difficult situation that I know at both the state level and federal level everyone is working as they can,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We need to learn from every outbreak – we have better real-time communication happening in terms of wait time in testing centres, and we need to do dramatic shutdowns, but we need them to be well-managed too.”
She said authorities were concerned residents from the Avalon cluster had already left the area and were travelling around Australia.
“If anyone has travelled to Queensland from the Northern Beaches, I am asking you to please go and get a COVID test,” she said.
Victoria’s border control
Meanwhile, cars continued to cross the NSW border into Victoria without being checked on Monday, according to a local mayor, after a state government request for additional Defence support received a limited response.
The Victorian government requested 200-300 Australian Defence Force personnel to help with planning, logistics and surveillance on Saturday night.
Defence has so far only committed to 50 additional personnel.
“We are not pleased … we are not happy that it seems that request has been turned down,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday.
“What that simply means is more members of Victoria Police and more SES volunteers will have to be on that border right throughout Christmas.”
Victoria announced on Sunday it would shut its border to people travelling from greater Sydney and the NSW Central Coast because of the expanding Northern Beaches outbreak.
On Monday, state Health Minister Martin Foley said 700 police had been deployed to patrol the NSW border.
He said local government area bubbles had been established on either side of the Victorian-NSW boundary to allow those in border communities to cross upon presentation of driver’s licences.
However, Wodonga mayor Kevin Poulton said he crossed from his Albury home to Victoria in the normal 15 minutes – without being stopped or checked by police.
“They’re still putting their measures in place at the moment … nothing was checked,” Mr Poulton told 3AW Radio on Monday.
“It looks like they’re working extremely hard to get themselves ready. They’re setting up a fairly significant operation here.”
Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said extra help from the ADF was crucial given policing was at its “busiest” in December.
“Without the support of those men and women we’d be on our knees by now in terms of resourcing,” Mr Gatt told 3AW Radio.
Defence says it already has 235 personnel supporting Victoria’s hotel quarantine program and any additional ADF backup will “not provide direct support to vehicle checkpoints on the NSW/Victoria border”.
A defence official said earlier that more than 3000 ADF personnel had been deployed to Victoria since June.
Another 50 people would provide planning and logistics support after requests for additional support.
From Monday, most people travelling from greater Sydney and the NSW Central Coast – or who have visited those areas since December 11 – will not be able to enter Victoria.
Anyone permitted to enter will have to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine.
The one exception is returning Victorians, who have until midnight on Monday to return if they want to be allowed to quarantine at home.
Mr Andrews said the border to NSW would remain closed for as long as Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton believed it was “proportionate and appropriate”.
He said anyone arriving at Melbourne Airport from Sydney who had just completed 14 days of hotel quarantine in NSW would not be required to repeat the process in Victoria, so long as they travelled directly from hotel to airport while wearing a mask.
The NSW government announced 15 new locally acquired cases on Monday. All were linked to an outbreak on the city’s northern beaches that now totals 83 cases.
Victoria has reported no new local coronavirus cases for the 52nd day in a row.
One new infection acquired overseas was found in hotel quarantine after 13,695 tests in the past 24 hours.