Victoria will reopen to regional NSW, with the introduction of a new “traffic light” system for interstate travel.
Permits which designate regions in other parts of Australia as green, orange or red zones depending on coronavirus risk will go live from 6 p.m. on Jan. 11.
Regional NSW will be classified as an orange zone.
Greater Sydney and Greater Brisbane will remain red, although Premier Daniel Andrews says the classifications could change “late in the week.”
“Whilst the restrictions that have been imposed in Greater Brisbane come off at 6 p.m. tonight, the public health team is still not 100 percent confident that we could have people from Brisbane returning to Victoria,” he said.
“There are still many close contacts that have not been tested. That’s a relatively new outbreak.”
Andrews conceded it was a “deeply inconvenient and challenging time” for Victorians stranded interstate, but insisted he had to follow public health advice.
“The stakes are very high here. We have built something that is precious and it needs to be safeguarded,” he said.
He said Victorians planning interstate travel need to be aware to the possibility their plans could change.
“That has got to be part of your thinking because this is not normal,” he said.
“We are in a global pandemic. There is no vaccine (in Australia) yet.”
Anyone wanting to come to Victoria from regional NSW will need to apply for a permit via the Services Victoria website.
A $4957 fine will apply for arriving without a permit and police will continue to patrol the Victoria-NSW border.
Monday marked the fifth consecutive day the state recorded no new local or interstate COVID-19 cases, though a returned traveller in hotel quarantine tested positive.
It brought the state’s active case total to 40.
VICTORIA’S NEW TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM FOR INTERSTATE TRAVEL:
RED ZONE: If you have visited a red zone in the past 14 days you will not be allowed to enter Victoria without an exception or exemption. If you try, you will be fined $4957 and turned away. Greater Brisbane and Greater Sydney remain red zones.
ORANGE ZONE: If you have visited an orange zone you will be able to apply for a permit and need to take a coronavirus test within 72 hours after arriving in Victoria, isolating before and after your test, until you receive a negative result. From 6pm on Monday, Regional NSW to become an orange zone.
GREEN ZONE: A green zone means you will be able to apply for a permit and enter Victoria.
Benita Kolovos in Melbourne