Victoria has sparked a frantic rush for the border after announcing all of NSW would be locked out from midnight on Friday, as the two states battle growing coronavirus outbreaks.
Premier Daniel Andrews, who is on holidays, apologised for putting a “dent in a lot of people’s plans” after the announcement was made by Acting Premier Jacinta Allan earlier in the afternoon.
“I know this will be tough to take,” Mr Andrews tweeted. “Victorians have been through a lot this year and sacrificed so much. But we will get through it – together.”
Ms Allan said earlier that closing the border to all of NSW, not just the northern beaches and Blue Mountains regions, was “not an easy choice”. “Unfortunately the virus doesn’t expire at midnight tonight and we have to remain vigilant,” she said.
Within hours there were reports of chaos at the border, with traffic building up at Albury and Wodonga.
“It’s not only anxiety, but also frustration,” reporter Clare Ciantar told Melbourne radio station 3AW. “I think people are pretty exhausted by this, having to go through the checkpoint day to day there’s a lot of frustration and anxiety for what this will actually mean for border residents.”
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today confirmed five cases have been linked to the Avalon cluster with an additional three cases linked to the Croydon cluster. Another was linked to a transport worker cluster and another is under investigation.
Authorities across both states have pleaded with the public to avoid New Year’s celebrations this evening amid fears it could lead to “superspreader” events, and have urged the public to take the current threat seriously and to follow public health advice.