Melbourne: In a major step to contain the rising number of COVID-19 infections, Australia’s hard-hit state Victoria on Monday announced to close its borders with the country’s most populous state New South Wales for the first time in 100 years.
Marking a new phase in Australia’s fight against the deadly contagion, Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said that effective Tuesday night, the state’s borders with New South Wales (NSW) will be shut.
The announcement came as Victoria registered yet another big jump of 127 new coronavirus cases — its highest daily increase since the pandemic began — and two deaths in the last 24 hours.
The new fatalities have taken the death toll of the state to 22 and that of the country to 106.
We have all of us agreed that the best thing to do is to close the border. ”That closure will be enforced on the NSW side, so as not to be a drain on resources that are very much focused on fighting the virus right now across our state, Andrews said.
Victorians will require a permit to enter NSW, he said.
He said that the decision to close the border followed talks with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has confirmed the state’s second death with a man in his 60s passing away on Monday morning.
Over the weekend, the state government has announced strict lockdown measures for nine public housing towers for five days in Melbourne’s inner north which house over 3,000 residents.
The restrictions on the residents of these buildings have been made stricter than the stay-at-home orders in place in 12 Melbourne postcodes, where people can only leave reasons such as work, study, to provide care or buy groceries.
The residents of the buildings are not allowed to leave their homes with police patrolling the area to enforce the lockdown.
Meanwhile, in a press briefing, NSW Premier Berejiklian said that all of Melbourne will be defined as a coronavirus hotspot under the NSW public health order from Monday.
The health minister will… be ensuring that come midnight tonight — so for the next 24 hours — that the hotspots will extend to all of Melbourne, so nobody from Melbourne will be able to cross the border in the next 24 hours,” she said.
A permit system will be put in place for the people who need to cross the border as they live in a border community or are an essential worker.
Berejiklian said that anyone could apply for a permit if they feel they will be impacted by the closure.
She said that an overwhelming majority of the new cases in Melbourne in the recent weeks were from community transmission.
This is the first time in 100 years that the state governments have to close their borders, according to officials.