NSW Goes It Alone With Open Borders

NSW Goes It Alone With Open Borders
A general view is seen of large numbers of people on Bondi beach in Sydney, Australia on Dec. 1, 2012. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NSW will swim against the tide and stick to its open border policy despite every other state and the Northern Territory moving to impose restrictions on South Australia after a COVID-19 cluster in Adelaide.

Seventeen cases have now been linked to the cluster, prompting Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory to impose quarantine for people arriving from SA, while Victoria has introduced extra screening.

Meanwhile for the ninth consecutive day NSW recorded no new cases of locally acquired COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on Sunday night, while two cases were reported in overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW was monitoring the interstate situation closely and insisted the borders would remain open to all, saying everyone needed to learn to live with COVID and the inevitable outbreaks.

"You can't shut down borders and disrupt lives every time there is an outbreak and disrupt businesses.

"We need to have confidence, not just in our own system, but the system in other states to be able to get on top of the virus," she told reporters on Nov. 16.

"It is how you deal with those outbreaks and we are confident if that happened in NSW we would get on top of it and similarly SA authorities are getting on top of it," she said.

Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant had consulted SA authorities and advised there was no need for NSW to impose any restrictions at this stage, she said.

"The advice I received this morning is that the SA government is on top of it, that they have isolated a number of people, that there are specific circumstances involved with this outbreak.

"I am not suggesting it is not concerning. It is. If we had 17 cases overnight in NSW I would be very, very concerned," the premier said.

If the situation did escalate she would reconsider and in the mean time NSW authorities would ensure that anybody coming to NSW had not visited any of the Adelaide venues contaminated with the virus.

"Our health authorities don't believe we need to change any of our policy settings, but obviously if the numbers were in hundreds or there were concerns that there were strains that were undetected of course we would look at our situation," she said.

Berejiklian said NSW would still be open to all Victorians from Monday and reiterated her long-standing frustration with the ban on Sydneysiders entering Queensland.

"The Queensland government's decision-making is beyond me.

"I want NSW to lead by example," she said.

She also indicated she would be changing the work from home advice that had been in place since March.

"We are looking at providing incentive and even for people to start getting back to the office if they are not already there," she said.

By Maureen Dettre
Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.