Families living in six Melbourne coronavirus hotspots should cancel any plans to spend school holidays interstate, the nation’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy has urged.
It comes as a new report from the Grattan Institute showed support for states like Queensland with no known community transmission maintaining tough borders closures.
The six Victorian local government areas that have been identified as COVID-19 hotspots include: Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin.
Many Victorian independent schools are already on holiday, while the term ends on Friday for government schools.
Professor Murphy told RN Breakfast on Monday the recommendation was a “strong advisory” that he did not want to see people from the six areas travelling regionally or interstate.
“School holidays are coming up, so if you live in one of those areas, we don’t want you to fly to visit your family in Sydney or to go to country Victoria and potentially spread the virus,” Professor Murphy said.
“If you are coming from interstate and you have family in one of those areas, we would prefer you not to come and visit that area and potentially take the virus back (to a regional area).”
After some deliberation, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Monday the state’s border would remain open to Victorians during the school holidays.
However, she warned NSW residents not to travel to Melbourne or its hotspots.
Ms Berejiklian’s decision came after weeks of persistently criticising the Queensland and South Australian governments for imposing interstate travel restrictions.
But Stephen Duckett, the Grattan Institute’s health program director, said he supported the tough border closures in states like Queensland where they have “effectively eliminated local transmission of COVID-19”.
In his report titled Coming out of COVID Lockdown: The next steps for Australian health care, Grattan Institute modelling shows poor adherence to social distancing rules led to more outbreaks like in Victoria and NSW.
But Queensland, with few active cases remaining, was “less likely to see an explosion of new COVID-19 cases”.
“Some of Australia’s states have effectively eliminated local transmission of COVID-19, and are keeping their borders closed to states where it persists,” Mr Duckett said.
“States should maintain different restrictions if they have different rates of local transmission.”