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NSW worried about Victorian COVID-19 incursion

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she is "worried" about the situation in Victoria. Photo: AAP
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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging residents in her state to avoid unnecessary travel to Victoria, which is preparing for another lockdown amid a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

Ms Berejiklian says NSW authorities are monitoring Victoria’s escalating COVID-19 outbreak “very closely” amid fears it could have crossed the border after people from a NSW sporting club visited one of the exposure sites last weekend.

“I’m worried about the evolving situation and of course we’ll watch closely,” the Premier told Nine on Thursday.

Ms Berejiklian said NSW health officials were able to closely follow community spread thanks to the use of QR codes to register people’s movements.

She took a swipe at the application of Victoria’s QR code system, saying that recent events had shown coronavirus numbers could rise “exponentially”, into the hundreds of cases per day, if an outbreak is not contained.

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino announced the state will begin a seven-day lockdown from midnight in an effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne’s northern suburbs that has grown to 26 cases.

The Victorian Health Department has listed 79 exposure sites on its website, spread across more than 30 Melbourne suburbs as well as regional Bendigo, Cohuna and Red Hill.

“We don’t have any intention of closing the borders at this stage, but of course we are very, very concerned with what’s going on,” Ms Berejiklian said.

owever the Premier urged Victorians not to take advantage of NSW’s goodwill by rushing to cross the border before the 4pm deadline.

“There are 55 crossings of the border and we just ask everybody to do the right thing,” she told Nine’s Today Show on Thursday.

“Anybody who is intending to get in their car and try and beat the lockdown, please think about your fellow citizens.

“We’ve relied on the goodwill of our citizens during the entire pandemic. Let’s not give up now.”

The Premier said once the Victorian lockdown – and its travel limitations – comes into effect at midnight, the pressure on NSW would ease.

Anyone who does enter NSW from Victoria after 4pm must remain at home for seven days, and is only permitted to leave for limited reasons.

However, NSW residents in border communities will only be required to abide by the rules if they go outside the border region from 4pm.

The update comes after members of the Tooleybuc Sporting Club in the NSW Riverina were instructed to self-isolate, with concerns the group were exposed to COVID-19 while attending an event at Cohuna in Victoria on Saturday.

“A few NSW teams were there, so we’re watching the evolving situation very closely, making sure that everybody who has been exposed … gets tested and isolates until further notice”, Ms Berejiklian said.

Victoria’s lockdown would take pressure off NSW “because we know that people who have been exposed will no longer be able to cross the border”, she said.

The NSW government has advised people against travelling to Melbourne and Bendigo, and Ms Berejiklian also asked people in Victoria not to rush to NSW.

“Can I please urge anybody who is intending to get in their car and try and beat the lockdown, please think about your fellow citizens, please be safe, please know your actions can really harm so many others.”

NSW has now administered 1,175,707 vaccinations and the Premier is urging more people to come forward for the jab.

NSW also hit a milestone with more than six million COVID-19 tests conducted since the start of the pandemic.

“What’s happening in Victoria is a wake-up call. We don’t know what’s around the corner,” she said.

NSW Health said there were no local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours until 8pm on Wednesday, from 15,379 tests.

NSW Health said the state had reached a major milestone with more than six million tests processed since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, NSW Liquor & Gaming says numerous serious breaches of COVID compliance have been recently detected by inspectors.

Director of Compliance Dimitri Argeres said breaches were detected last week during a COVID compliance blitz on the Central Coast, with two venues found to be not enforcing patron sign-in.

The courts had also fined three Sydney hospitality businesses a total of $5400 this month for breaches.

Mr Argeres said the situation in Victoria was a timely reminder for businesses to remain vigilant and that there were no excuses for not requiring patrons to sign-in with the Service NSW QR Code.

-with agencies