Victorian Health Chief Extends NSW COVID-19 Risk Zones

By AAP
December 19, 2020 Updated: December 19, 2020

The Victorian government is increasing restrictions on visitors from New South Wales in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 beyond Sydney’s northern beaches.

Victoria Police are making preparations to set up checkpoints and a request for Australian Defence Force support will be made.

Late on Saturday, the state extended its “orange zone” from Sydney to include the NSW Central Coast, requiring visitors from that region to also get tested and isolate immediately.

“The Department of Health and Human Services is extending the orange zone in NSW to include the NSW Central Coast region,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said in a statement on Saturday evening.

“Any people either entering Victoria in coming days or who have already entered Victoria and who have visited this region must now get tested and isolate immediately until they receive a negative result.”

Authorities are also looking to expand the “red zone,” which currently covers the Sydney northern beaches area, denying entry to visitors from there.

An additional 23 cases were diagnosed in NSW in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on Friday, taking the northern beaches outbreak to 40. More cases are expected to be announced later on Sunday.

Health officials have identified 70 primary close contacts of positive cases and they are now in quarantine.

The government said on Saturday evening it had sent more than 27,000 text messages to people who had flown into Victoria from NSW between Dec. 11 and Dec. 17.

Flight manifests have identified 321 people from the northern beaches area, and contact tracers have called 305 of those.

Testing sites have been set up at terminals one and four at Tullamarine airport. Masks are also mandatory in airports.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley flagged serious concerns that the virus had spread.

“We remain extremely concerned about the outbreak in NSW and the likelihood that it has seeded beyond the northern beaches,” Foley said on Saturday evening.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW virus cases were expected to increase by the same number again on Sunday, or by more.

The northern beaches region went into strict lockdown until Wednesday and Berejiklian also indicated the rest of Sydney could be facing some level of restrictions.

Epoch Times Photo
Police in the southern New South Wales (NSW) border city of Albury check cars crossing the state border from Victoria on July 8, 2020. (William West/AFP via Getty Images)

On Friday Premier Daniel Andrews enacted a permit system on anyone coming into Victoria from  NSW.

“From 11.59 p.m. tonight, we’re introducing a permit system for everyone entering VIC from NSW. Anyone who has been to the Nthn Beaches & other hotspots (red zone) won’t be allowed to enter. Arrivals from these areas after 11.59 p.m. will be transferred to hotel quarantine for 14 days,” he wrote on Twitter.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this article.