Victorians from coronavirus hotspots face six months’ jail and an $11,000 fine if they cross the border into NSW.
NSW residents who head to one of the 10 locked-down Melbourne postcodes – in defiance of instructions from state authorities – must complete 14 days isolation or face the same penalties, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
“The message to NSW residents is don’t go to Victorian hotspots, just don’t go,” he said on Wednesday.
“[And] Victorians, right now, from those hotspots, are not welcome in NSW. We’re sorry. It’s not something we want to do but we must do for our own safety.”
It came as Victoria confirmed 73 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday – its 15th day of double-digit increases that have prompted renewed lockdowns for tens of thousands of Melburnians.
Victoria’s cases have spiked even further in recent days with a testing blitz that started late last week. Since Monday alone, it has added 212 confirmed infections – far exceeding the numbers in any other Australian state.
Premier Daniel Andrews said 113,000 people had been tested since the suburban blitz started across Melbourne’s north and west last Thursday. He also sounded a cautious note of optimism, despite the state’s ongoing surge in confirmed infections.
“No one can predict what tomorrow’s numbers will be, but it is pleasing that there is some sense of stability to these numbers,” he said.
“We are finding new cases but there is the beginnings of some consistency here – and that is obviously better than other options where we might see doubling and doubling again. ”
NSW had 14 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, all in travellers in hotel quarantine. Queensland reported none.
The NSW restrictions apply to more than 300,000 people from the 36 Melbourne suburbs authorities consider to have an “unacceptably high” number of coronavirus cases.
Those suburbs will return to tough stage-three lockdowns from 11.59pm on Wednesday (July 1), until at least July 29.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has already urged people in her state not to welcome Victorians into their homes, despite stopping short of closing the border.
Victorians will also be banned from entering stadiums in NSW as virus restrictions ease there. NSW authorities have said they will require people to show driver’s licences to prove they’re not from Victoria.
Other virus measures relaxed in NSW on Wednesday include limits on attendance at funerals, weddings, places of worship and community sport in NSW, as long as there is no more than one person per four square metres of space.
Outdoor gatherings are still restricted to 20 people, but community sport with a COVID-19 safety plan can have up to 500 participants.
Up to 20 people can visit another household at any one time and guests are permitted to stay overnight. Up to 20 people can also stay at a holiday home, with no restrictions on travelling within NSW.