NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has taken a swipe at other leaders banning travellers from her state as it battles the COVID outbreak in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
“I ask people to think about things compassionately and base it on the facts,” she said on Monday.
“Please think about the heartbreak and please think about the facts when you’re making these decisions, because it impacts so many people.”
The NSW cluster rose to 83 on Monday, with confirmation of 15 more infections.
They are mostly contained to the Northern Beaches area, although there are exposure sites across Sydney – including a CBD workplace, The Salon for Hair at Turramurra and the busy Rose Hotel of Australia in inner-west Erskineville.
More health alerts were also issued for gyms, cafes, restaurants, a nursery and a sports centre across Freshwater, Mona Vale, Newport and Warriewood on the northern beaches, as well as Double Bay in Sydney’s east.
Monday’s new cases emerged from a record 38,578 tests in the previous 24 hours.
“The government is monitoring the situation almost on an hourly basis. We will consider our position in relation to what Christmas and the next few days look like beyond Wednesday … it’s an ongoing brief,” Ms Berejiklian said.
- See a full list of NSW alerts here
As the outbreak has grown, other states have imposed restrictions on NSW travellers. Some, such as Western Australia, have closed their borders to everyone from NSW, while others have imposed quarantine rules or are limiting restrictions to people from greater Sydney and the central coast.
On Monday afternoon, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a hard border checkpoint would return by 6am Tuesday.
“Realistically Christmas has already chased for many of us,” she said.
“I know this is a difficult time, and being close to greater Sydney and the Northern Beaches, we do want to welcome those tourists back here to Queensland, down the track – we do love you.
“But at the moment, as you can appreciate, it is a very hard and very difficult decision we are making, but we are making this decision in the best interest of keeping Queensland safe.”
Ms Berejiklian said NSW’s borders had been closed only once throughout the pandemic – to Victoria when its case numbers rose to 140 early in its devastating second wave.
“NSW’s strategy has been consistent and we’ll continue to hold our line, because our people have responded. Our citizens have responded favourably to the way in which we’ve put things in place,” she said.
“I’d ask colleagues from other states to consider that. It is a very emotional time of the year. We’ve all had a very difficult year and please make sure that your response is proportionate to what’s happening.”
She also urged other states to do more to help bring Australians home from overseas through the hotel quarantine program. NSW has taken by far the greatest number of returned travellers of any state throughout the pandemic, and is still taking about 3000 a week – 45 per cent of whom are from outside NSW, according to the Premier.
“When I get helpful advice from other premiers, my response is – please consider the heavy load NSW has been lifting to bring back Aussies and we ask every other state to do that proportionately,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian was backed up by Prime Minister Scott Morrison later on Monday.
“NSW has been carrying the lion’s share of bring Australians home … [and] continues to carry the heaviest burden on quarantining international arrivals into this country,” he said.
However, Mr Morrison, who has been a keen supporter of reopened state borders, refused to criticise restrictions imposed by the states in response to the Avalon outbreak. The cluster meets the federal government’s national hotspot guidelines – and border rules were part of the official response to that, he said.
“In the [other] seven states and territories, we will have Christmas in this country like few countries in the world are and … while there are frustrations and disappointing disruptions, in Australia we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be grateful for,” he said.