The Victorian government has held a second press conference, to announce a hard border closure to New South Wales.
From 11.59pm on January 1, Victoria will put in place a solid border to the entire state.
Acting Premier Jacinta Allan made the announcement on Thursday afternoon, following on from South Australia, which announced it will also shut its border.
“This is not an easy choice”, Ms Allan said.
“Closing borders, putting in place restrictions is never an easy choice to make; certainly not one we wanted to be making and announcing on a day that is supposed to be about celebration.
“As we have seen throughout the course of 2020, this has been a difficult year, with many difficult decisions to make, as a consequence of a virus that causes great damage to the health and wellbeing of our community.”
Ms Allan said the border closure came after Victoria identified five new cases that likely stemmed from the NSW outbreak.
There are eight new cases in Victoria, in the past 48 hours, Ms Allan confirmed. Three were previously announced on Thursday morning.
Thursday morning’s press conference also heralded new restrictions for Victoria: the return of masks indoors, and a reduced private gathering cap – down to 15, from 30.
“These two new cases are close contacts of the known positive cases to date,” Ms Allan told the press pack.
“They are currently quarantining. The number of close contacts in isolation is now over 70, there is an extensive amount of work being undertaken by the public health team with interviews and conversations, to track their movements and exposure sites.”
UPDATE. Exposure sites now include:
• Black Rock: Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant. 21 December
• Doveton: Holy Family Parish Doveton Catholic. 26/12/20, 4:00pm-6:00pm
• Mentone: Mentone/Parkdale Beach. 27/12/20, 10:00am – 4:30pm
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) December 30, 2020
Ms Allan said the government was giving Victorians ample time to make it home before the borders closed on Friday night, following on from days of strong advice for any Victorians holidaying in NSW to reconsider their travel plans, or to cut short trips.
Any Victorians who arrive back in the state after 11.59pm on January 1 will have to take and test and enter 14 days of quarantine.
Victoria’s COVID coordinator Jeroen Weimar urged any Victorians who had returned from New South Wales in the past 10 days to get tested.
“If you have not yet been tested you should be, these get tested immediately,” Mr Weimar said.
“If you have already been tested and you still feel have concerns, get tested again. That is why we have boosted our resources over the last few days and they will be fully stood up over the holiday weekend.
“It is important that we run this to ground now. We need you to go get tested to put this thing behind us.”
A full list of the Victorian outbreak sites and alert locations is available here, and being regularly updated as more information comes to light.