A 700-strong Victoria Police contingent has been deployed to establish checkpoints along the state’s border with NSW, Health Minister Martin Foley says.
It came amid fears of extended delays at Victoria’s reinstated border checkpoints after a state government request for additional Defence support has so far had a limited response.
On Sunday night, the Victorian government requested up to 300 Australian Defence Force personnel to help with planning, logistics and surveillance. But the ADF has so far only committed to 50 additional personnel.
On Sunday, Victoria announced it was shutting its border to people travelling from greater Sydney and the NSW Central Coast as the Avalon virus cluster spreads.
On Monday, Mr Foley thanked the police and State Emergency Services volunteers for establishing checkpoints along the priority crossing points on the border.
“They’ve got family, they’ve got friends that we’re pulling them away from in this period of time,” he told the ABC.
Mr Foley also said local government area bubbles had been established on either side of the Victorian-NSW boundary to allow those in border communities to cross following presentation of driver’s licences.
“We apologise for the disruption that will cause to those communities but … given the risk that we’re facing in the greater Sydney area and the Central Coast these are proportionate and necessary measures to keep us all safe,” he said.
Additional ADF support has been requested to help with planning, logistics and surveillance for the operation.
“We’re looking at extended delays at the border because it’s going to take longer to set these systems up if we’re doing it on our own,” a government source said on Sunday.
Defence said it already had 235 personnel supporting Victoria’s hotel quarantine program and any additional ADF backup would “not provide direct support to vehicle checkpoints on the NSW/Victoria border”.
“Defence has provided extensive support to Victorian authorities under Operation COVID-19 Assist, with more than 3000 ADF personnel deployed to Victoria since June,” an official said.
“As a result of requests for additional support from the Victorian government, Defence will provide at least an additional 50 personnel to provide planning and logistics support.
“Defence will continue to work with Victorian authorities to determine how best it can continue to assist in its COVID-19 response.”
From Monday, most people travelling from greater Sydney and the NSW Central Coast – or who visited those areas since December 11 – are not be able to enter Victoria.
Anyone who is 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.
These restrictions will not be lifted on Wednesday night, unlike many of the restrictions announced in NSW, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday.
The NSW government announced 30 new locally transmitted cases on Sunday, with 28 linked to an outbreak on the city’s northern beaches.
That takes the total number of known coronavirus cases in NSW to 70.
It is yet to give an update for Monday.
Victoria reported no new local coronavirus cases for the 52nd day in a row, the Department of Health and Human Services said.
There were also no deaths in the past 24 hours. One new virus infection acquired overseas was recorded from 13,695 tests.