People who live on the border of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) in Australia will now need a travel permit to cross over as Victoria’s lockdown is extended for another week.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the rule would come into place from 6 p.m. on Friday. “It is not good enough to limit movement. We need to know who is moving,” he said.
Andrews wants the measures in place after the virus spread from Sydney to Byron Bay in the state’s north, near the border with Queensland. Now he’s concerned it could also travel to the state’s southern border.
“If this virus can get from Sydney to Byron Bay, to Armidale, then only a fool would think it couldn’t get to Albury,” he said. “It absolutely can. We need to go beyond a bubble. We need to have permits.”
The permit measures will be in place for the next 14 days in a bid to aid contact tracers in their efforts to track movements into Victoria as well as to ensure compliance. It will replace the licence checks currently in place at border controls.
Travel will only be permitted for six reasons: medical care, compassionate purposes, work, education, playing sport, or getting vaccinated.
Andrews noted that if the virus moved into the southern NSW regions there was “every chance” it would spread into Victoria.
The move comes after the NSW government recorded 344 new locally acquired COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Several other regional areas in NSW have also joined Greater Sydney in lockdown, including the Hunter region, the Northern Rivers—which takes in Byron Bay—Tamworth, Armidale, and Dubbo—which is almost 400 kilometres west of Sydney.
NSW Health has reported a total of 6,149 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the current outbreak which began in June.
At present, there are 374 COVID-19 cases in NSW hospitals, 62 of whom are in intensive care, with 29 requiring ventilation, NSW Health said. Authorities have attributed two more deaths to the CCP virus Delta variant outbreak, bringing the total to 34.
Victoria Remains In Lockdown
Meanwhile, the Victorian government has announced that it will extend its current lockdown for another week after it recorded another 20 new cases on Wednesday, all located in Melbourne.
According to Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services, 15 of the cases are linked to known outbreaks while the origins of five are a mystery.
The premier said that the lockdown was necessary given that six of the cases were not isolating throughout their infectious period and five remained a mystery.
“There are too many cases, and too many cases the origins of which are not clear to us, too many unanswered questions, too many mysteries for us to safely come out of lockdown now,” he said.
“We would see cases akin to what’s happening, tragically, in Sydney right now.”
AAP contributed to this report.